India has once again rejected a foreign leader’s offer, this time from President Donald Trump, to mediate the Kashmir conflict. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in the U.S., brought about the issue of Kashmir, asserting that the U.S. could play an important role in resolving the issue.

Trump said he would love to be a mediator and added that Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, had also asked him to do the same. But Raveesh Kumar, the spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said Modi had made “no such request.

In a tweet, Kumar said India maintains its position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. “Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism,” he said. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally.

Kashmir A masked demonstrator pulls a burning tyre during a protest in Srinagar, Oct. 4, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Danish Ismail

In late February this year, nuclear-armed India and Pakistan was on the brink of a war following the Indian Air Force’s attack on terror camps within Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The attack followed a terror strik on Februaury 14 in Indian-controlled Kashmir's Pulwama that took the lives of more than 40 paramilitary soldiers. The two incidents had quickly unfolded into an aerial skirmish between Indian and Pakistani fighter jets.

The Governmet of Pakistan, in a tweet, said the U.S. is the “most powerful” country in the world and it can play a very important role for peace in the subcontinent. “Over a billion people are held hostage to the Kashmir situation and I believe that Donald Trump can bring to two countries together,” it said.

Experts noted that Trump chose to play the role of mediator between Islamabad and New Delhi after he was pressed by Khan to persuade India to open bilateral peace talks in return for helping to end the war with the Afghan Taliban. Khan told reporters that Pakistan “desperately wants peace." Trump acknowledged his counterpart's initiative and said that the U.S. has made a lot of progress over the last couple of weeks. “And Pakistan has helped us with that progress,” he said.  

Washington’s renewed friendliness with Islamabad is because of Trump’s policy to end the Afghan war and withdraw its troops. Relations between the two countries had soured when the U.S. blamed Pakistan for being a safe haven for terrorists.