Washington DC [USA]: The United States on Thursday reiterated that there was no change in its policy over Kashmir and said it is working closely on resolving issues with both India and Pakistan.
The US has maintained that the Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan without any third-party mediation.
“We had a meeting with (External Affairs Minister S) Jaishankar in ASEAN (in Bangkok) and I know that he has had a number of phone calls. He speaks with his counterparts on a daily basis…and pointed out how many State Department officials we have in the region,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters during a briefing.
“We have a lot of engagement with India and Pakistan. We just have Prime Minister Khan here, not just because of Kashmir, which is certainly an incredibly important issue and something that we follow closely. But we have a host of issues that we work with India and Pakistan quite closely. I would say that we are as a State Department, we are incredibly engaged in South-East Asia,” she said.
The spokesperson was responding to a question on US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo reaching out to his counterparts in India and Pakistan over developments related to abrogation of Article 370 by New Delhi that granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Asked if there was any change in US’ policy on Kashmir, Ortagus said, “No, there is no change.”
Tensions between India and Pakistan spiralled after the Indian Parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution to revoke Article 370 and a bill bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. A rattled Islamabad then decided to downgrade bilateral ties with New Delhi and suspend all bilateral trade activities with the neighbouring country.
On August 2, Jaishankar, who met Pompeo on the sidelines of the 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers meet in Bangkok, had conveyed to his counterpart that any discussion on Kashmir will only take place between India and Pakistan.
This came after India categorically rejected US President Donald Trump’s offer to act as a mediator between New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve the Kashmir issue and reiterated that it is purely a bilateral matter.
During Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the US last month, Trump made a stunning claim that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had brought up the issue of Kashmir with him and asked him to meditate.