Washington: President Donald Trump on Monday offered to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, signaling a shift in long-standing US policy that the issue must be solved bilaterally.
Kashmir has been divided between both countries and China since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, and remains at the root of tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian countries.
"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," Trump said at the White House, where he was hosting Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. "If I can do anything to help, let me know."
It is far from the first time that Trump has offered to intervene in a seemingly intractable international dispute. US mediation, which has long been sought by Pakistan, is likely to be rejected outright by New Delhi.
Trump receives Imran
Trump welcomed Imran Khan on Monday as the premier arrived at the White House for a one-to-one meeting with the US leader.
The meeting was followed by the delegation-level talks to discuss the bilateral and regional matters.
As Khan was making his way to the White House, a crowd of people bearing Pakistani colours and dancing to the beat of traditional drums gathered outside the gates to welcome him.
The prime minister, who is on a three-day visit to the US at the invitation of the US President, arrived for the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States since both the leaders assumed their respective offices.
As the prime minister arrived, the US President was there to receive him at the entrance. Both the leaders shook hands before proceedings for the one-to-one and delegation level talks.
The honour guards of the White House saluted the prime minister, who was accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Special Assistant on Overseas Zulfikar Bukhari are also accompanying the Prime Minister during the US visit.
In a brief chat with reporters upon sitting down in the Oval Office, Trump said that he was looking forward to one-on-one chat with Imran.
Analysts believe that personal chemistry between President Trump, a property developer turned reality TV star, and PM Imran, World Cup-winning captain of the Pakistan cricket team, may be decisive as both came to office after achieving fame away from politics.
The premier is expected to attend two sessions, a small group meeting and an extended meeting, during his maiden visit to the White House since assuming office in August last.
The first meeting will be in the Oval Office; the second in the Cabinet room.
The talks mark an effort by the two leaders to reset ties between the two countries.
Imran's visit is set to expand bilateral cooperation on trade and investment as well as work toward peace in South Asia at large and Afghanistan in particular.
The premier will also interact with top American lawmakers and Pakistan Caucus on the Capitol Hill.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Special Assistant on Overseas Zulfikar Bukhari and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, are accompanying the Prime Minister during the US vis
The Trump-Khan summit is expected to have a positive effect on the situation in the South Asian region in general, according to a senior Islamabad official.
Talking to media at the Karachi Press Club, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, said on Monday that PM Khan will promote Pakistan’s narrative and the country’s real face to the international community.
She said that attempts to isolate Pakistan are failing. Khan's ongoing US visit shows the new face of Pakistan and that the Pakistani diaspora has expressed confidence in Khan's narrative, as can be seen during the rousing reception Pakistani community in Washington gave the premier on Sunday night.
“PM Khan’s visit will prove useful in getting the world to recognise Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror,” she said.