Prime Minister Imran Khan is meeting US President Donald Trump in New York City ahead of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly opening on September 24.
Addressing a joint press conference alongside Prime Minister Imran ahead of their meeting, Trump once again offered to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue.
“If I can help, I will certainly help,” he said. “If both (Pakistan and India) want, I am ready to do it.”
The US president said he has a “very good relationship” with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as with Prime Minister Imran. He said he has never failed as an arbitrator in the past and would be available to help if asked.
Avoiding to directly answer a question about UN resolutions on Kashmir, Trump reiterated that he is ready to play his role in South Asia if both India and Pakistan are willing.
Speaking about the US-Pakistan relationship, Trump said: “People in my position have treated Pakistan very badly.”
“I trust Pakistan but people before me didn’t, but they didn’t know what they were doing,” he said in response to a question.
“I trust this gentleman right here,” he added, pointing to Prime Minister Imran.
The meeting — which started after 10pm and is reported to be the first of two between the leaders during the UN session — follows a “Howdy, Modi!” rally in Houston on Sunday in which the US president and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a stage and showered each other with praise.
Trump and Imran last met in July at the Oval office. During their first one-on-one interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the 70-year-old Kashmir dispute — an offer he has repeated but has been rejected by India.
Tensions between India and Pakistan reached a feverish pitch on August 5, when New Delhi unilaterally annexed occupied Kashmir, revoking a constitutional guarantee that gave a special status to the disputed territory. A strict lockdown and communications blackout was imposed in the region that has snapped off ordinary people’s internet and mobile telephone service across much of occupied Kashmir. It has now entered its 50th day.
President Trump’s recent comments on Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations have triggered speculations about an indirect dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours during the UNGA, with Washington playing the role of a facilitator.
Last week, President Trump told reporters at a White House briefing that “a lot of progress” has been made in defusing India-Pakistan tensions and his statement has strengthened these speculations.
After it was confirmed that Trump would meet both Indian and Pakistani prime ministers before and during the UNGA, diplomatic observers in Washington said the possibility that he may use the meetings to discuss the situation in Kashmir is stronger than ever before.
Prime Minister Imran, who has declared himself an ambassador of Kashmiris, spent the second day of his seven-day visit to the United Nations briefing US lawmakers, scholars, human rights activists and the media on the repercussions of the Indian annexation of the disputed Kashmir valley.
The lawmakers who called on the prime minister on Sunday included US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham.
Senator Graham was also among those four US senators who wrote a letter to President Trump last week, asking him to take immediate action to end deepening humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir.
Ahead of his meeting with Trump, Prime Minister Imran on Monday spoke at an event at the think tank, Council on Foreign Relations. He will address the UN Climate Change Summit and the Summit on Universal Health Care on the same day.
The premier today also held a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is also expected to meet China’s Vice President Wang Qishan.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also called on Prime Minister Imran in New York today.
On Saturday, the premier met with the founder the Kashmir Study Group Farooq Kathwari during which he urged Kathwari to continue informing the world about India’s illegal occupation and human rights violations in occupied Kashmir so that they could see the real face of Modi’s government.
Read: PM Imran meets US envoy Khalilzad, Senator Graham in New York
On Sunday, US special envoy for Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad had a meeting with the prime minister. The prime minister also met Amnesty International’s secretary general Komi Naidoo and discussed with him the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Prime Minister Imran is due to address the UN General Assembly on September 27. He has already announced that he will highlight the Kashmir issue in his address, exposing the ethical and legal bankruptcy of India’s annexation of occupied Kashmir.