By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday his offer to mediate in the dispute between India and Pakistan regarding Kashmir is still in play after New Delhi ruled out a Washington role.
"I am ready, willing and able," Trump said alongside Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during UN General Assembly meetings in New York. "It’s a complex issue and it’s been going on for a long time. But if they are both willing then I’m ready to do it."
The India-administered region has been facing a clampdown since Aug. 5, when the Indian government nixed Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which conferred a special status on it. Hundreds of people, mostly political leaders, have been detained or arrested by authorities since the Indian government made the move.
Trump has in the past offered to help diffuse tensions, but his outreach has been repeatedly dismissed by India.
India rules out third party mediation in its dispute with Pakistan concerning the region, insisting the matter should be dealt with bilaterally.
But Trump said he has excellent relationships with Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi "and if at any time they say you know we have some points we think you can maybe iron out, I think I’d be an extremely good arbitrator."
Also addressing reporters, Khan said he would seek U.S. assistance in settling the crisis.
“It needs to be said there are 8 million people under siege by 900,000 troops. That’s a humanitarian issue," Khan said.
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
India and Pakistan hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.
Trump is slated to meet Tuesday with Modi on the sidelines of the General Assembly meetings.