Pak urges US to “persuade” India to start talks on Kashmir

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday urged the US to use its “influence” to “persuade” India to start talks on the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Qureshi’s remarks came after US President Donald Trump said Kashmir was a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan but he would be happy to mediate if they want him to do so.

The Foreign Minister said India was avoiding the talks and did not appear willing to negotiate on the matter.

“India insists it is a bilateral matter, but it is not even willing to come to the table for talks,” he said. “India won’t agree easily to the Kashmir talks. the US to exercise its influence and persuade India,” he added.

Qureshi said he will also write a letter to the United Nations chief Antonio Guterres.

Earlier, rejecting any mediation by Trump on Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday made it clear to his American counterpart Mike Pompeo that “any discussion on the issue, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally”.

Last month, President Trump offered to be the “mediator” between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue when he met Prime Minister Imran Khan for the first time at the White House.

“Trump offered mediation keeping in view the regional situation. We thank (him) for the offer, and we have expressed our willingness,” Qureshi said.

“We want peace. Our focus right now is the Afghan peace process. If India (tries to) create any obstacle to the peace process in Afghanistan, then regional peace will suffer,” he said.

Last week, in his joint media appearance with Pakistan Prime Minister Khan in Oval Office, Trump stunned India by saying that Modi sought his mediation/arbitration on the Kashmir issue.

India quickly denied it and said the Kashmir issue was never discussed between Modi and Trump.

Jaishankar made a statement in Parliament strongly refuting that the Prime Minister had ever made such a request.

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