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Trump’s Kashmir claims ’embarrassing’, says US lawmaker; others fear ‘damage’ to Indo-US ties

Congressman Brad Sherman on Tuesday apologised to India’s US envoy for President Donald Trump’s shocking remarks on Kashmir.

SNS | New Delhi |

An influential Democratic Congressman on Tuesday apologised to India’s US envoy for President Donald Trump’s “embarrassing” remarks on Kashmir, while several others came out in support of New Delhi’s established stand against any third-party role on the issue.

“I just apologised to Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla for Trump’s amateurish and embarrassing mistake,” Congressman Brad Sherman tweeted hours after Donald Trump’s shocking claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought his mediation to resolve the Kashmir issue with Pakistan.

India had immediately rejected the claims.

“Everyone who knows anything about foreign policy in South Asia knows that #India consistently opposes third-party mediation re Kashmir. Everyone knows PM Modi would never suggest such a thing (sic),” tweeted Sherman, who has been closely following the development in South Asia for the past few decades.

He further called Trump’s statement as “amateurish, delusional and embarrassing”.

In a bid to contain the damage created by President Trump, the US Acting Assistant Secretary Alice Wells clarified that the Trump administration welcomes India and Pakistan sitting down to resolve the issue and the “US stands ready to assist”.

Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, acknowledged that Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss — echoing India’s consistent stand on the subject.

Trump had on Monday, during a press conference with the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, claimed that PM Modi had asked him to mediate in the dispute with Pakistan.

Speaking to reporters before his meeting in the White House with Khan, Trump asserted that during his meeting with Modi in Osaka, “We talked about the subject, (and) he actually said, ‘Would you like to mediate or arbitrate?’ I said, ‘Where,?’ (and he said) ‘Kashmir’.”

Imran Khan welcomed these remarks.

Meanwhile, former US diplomats fear that Donald Trump’s claim might “damage” the Indo-US relations.

Former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma told PTI, “The President did a lot of damage today. His comments on Kashmir and Afghanistan were way off the mark.”

According to Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistan Ambassador to the US, President Trump would soon learn the complexity of South Asian issues.

“President Trump wants Pakistan’s help with a deal on Afghanistan and has dangled the prospect of help with what he thinks Pakistan wants,” he said.

India has strongly maintained that PM Modi has never made such a request to the US President.

(With PTI inputs)