WASHINGTON: The remarks by President Donald Trump that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought mediation on Kashmir is "utterly preposterous," an influential American lawmaker said Tuesday.
Speaking on the floor of the US House of Representatives, Congressman Brad Sherman said it was not surprising that the Pakistan Prime Minister wants America to arbitrate or mediate as its stand has been the same for decades.
"It's not surprising that the Prime Minister of Pakistan wants America to arbitrate or mediate. That has been the position of Pakistan for decades, Sherman said.
"But then, the President says, you know, in Osaka last month, Prime Minister Modi asked the United States to arbitrate or mediate the Kashmir dispute. That is utterly preposterous," Sherman, who is the chairman of the House's Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, said.
A day earlier, Trump offered to be the "mediator" between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House.
Trump, who is known to make inaccurate statements, claimed that Prime Minister Modi asked him to mediate on Kashmir when they met in Osaka, Japan on the sidelines of the G20 Summit last month.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar refuted that Prime Minister Modi ever made that request For the past 70 years, India has consistently resisted any third-party mediation proposal, and for over a decade now, the US has been reiterating that Kashmir is a bilateral issue.
Sherman said President Trump should have realised the preposterous statement he stated.
"It is embarrassing that we have a President who wouldn't realise how preposterous that statement is and of course the record has been set straight by PM Modi," Sherman said in an apparent reference to the rebuttal of Trump's remarks by India' EAM S Jaishankar.
Sherman is scheduled to meet the visiting Pakistani PM Imran Khan later in the day.
The Democratic lawmaker also criticised Trump's comment on Afghanistan. "What's unfortunate is the approach taken by the Trump Administration," he said.
Noting that the hearts and minds of the Afghan people are critical to US success in what has been its longest war, Sherman said tens of thousands of Americans have worked to get the hearts and minds of the Afghan people on US side, building schools and hospitals under very dangerous conditions.
"And now the President takes this high-profile opportunity as an opportunity to say you that, well, he might kill 10 million Afghans or was thinking about it or raises the possibility that would use nuclear weapons to destroy Afghanistan. This does untold harm to our efforts in Afghanistan to win the hearts and minds of the afghan people, Sherman said.
"What the President should have done is talk about the Durand line and how Afghanistan should accept this border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a border Afghanistan disputes and the whole world accepts, he said.
Sherman also slammed Khan for offering negotiations on swap of a Pakistani prisoner in lieu of Dr Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped CIA find Osama bin Laden.