WASHINGTON: Donald Trump's controversial remarks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought his mediation on resolving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan will "damage" bilateral ties, according to former diplomats and experts, with one of them saying the US president did not do his homework.
India has already firmly rejected Trump's claim, which he made on Monday during a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House, saying that New Delhi's consistent position has been that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.
"I would like to categorically state that no such request has been made by the Prime Minister to the US President," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Reacting to Trump's statement, former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma told PTI that "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, the President 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.
"He praised Imran Khan like he praised North Korea's Kim Jong-un. This is his standard procedure in trying to get a deal," he noted.
"Just as he has not got a deal on the Korean peninsula, he will soon learn that South Asia's historical issues are also more complex than fashioning a real estate deal," Haqqani said.
Former State Department diplomat Alyssa Ayres, who is now with the Council for Foreign Relations think tank, said Trump did not come prepared for the meeting.
"I am worried about the President's lack of preparation for his meetings, and his impromptu statements. His statement on Kashmir today (that PM Modi sought mediation from Trump) was categorically denied by the Indian government within hours," Ayres told PTI.
"Diplomacy requires careful attention to detail, to language, and to the facts of history. We did not see that today," she said in response to a question.
Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that even by President Trump's standards, it was a cringeworthy performance neither truthful nor coherent.
"Thankfully, neither the governments of India or Pakistan really believe that there is any chance of Trump actually inserting himself in the Kashmir conflict. He is simply too busy ruining the United States," he said.
Nicholas Burns, who served as under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under the Bush Administration and played a key role in the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, said the Indian government has been consistent for many years in rejecting the US as a mediator in the Kashmir dispute.
The former diplomats and experts were responding to questions on President Trump's remarks that he is ready to mediate between India and Pakistan on the contentious Kashmir issue.
"We have seen President Trump's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by Prime Minister to the US President," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in New Delhi on Monday.
"It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally," Kumar said.
President Trump, who is known to make inaccurate statements, claimed that Prime Minister Modi asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue when they had a bilateral meeting on June 28 on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.
"I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject (Kashmir).
And he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?' I said, 'where?' (Modi said) 'Kashmir'," Trump said on Monday during his talks with Khan, their first since the latter came to power in August 2018.
"I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be....we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can't solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that," Trump said.
"So all those issues should be resolved. So, he (Modi) has to ask me the same thing. So maybe we'll speak to him. Or I'll speak to him and we'll see if we can do something," Trump said.
Khan welcomed Trump's remarks. "President, I can tell you that, right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this issue," he said.