Imran urges Trump to help end grave crisis in IOK, calls for resuming US-Taliban talks

NEW YORK, Sep 24 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday urged US President Donald Trump to weigh in with India to lift the 50-day-old siege of occupied Kashmir where people were languishing without basic freedoms and held in incommunicado, and help resolve the decades-old dispute.

“The most powerful country in the world has a responsibility,” he said, denouncing India’s clampdown and warning that the “crisis is going to get much bigger”.

The United States, he said, had a “duty” to help resolve the grave crisis in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

President Trump responded that he would “certainly” help mediate between Pakistan and India as long as both the governments asked for that.

“I trust Pakistan… Want to see everyone treated well in Kashmir… I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi. I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Khan. If they both say ‘we have a point to iron out’, I will be ready to do it,” he told reporters. “I think I’d be an extremely good arbitrator,” he added.

On Afghanistan, Imran Khan pressed Trump to re-start talks with the Taliban to pave the way for a political settlement as there was no military solution..

“Stability in Afghanistan means stability in Pakistan,” he said at the start of a meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Trump said it was “ridiculous” that the United States had been fighting there for 19 years.

However, he made no promises about restarting peace talks with the Taliban, saying only “we’ll see.” But he said he trusted PM Imran Khan, who he called a “good friend”.

A senior US diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad, reached a deal to pull troops after a year of negotiating with Taliban militants. Trump abruptly ended talks earlier this month, revealing on Twitter that he had invited Taliban leaders to the United States but cancelled their visit after a bombing in Kabul killed a US soldier.

Imran Khan said just before meeting Trump that he would be underlining that “there’s not going to be a military solution” in Afghanistan.

“For 19 years if you have not been able to succeed, you’re not going to be able to succeed in another 19 years,” he said in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose government has sought to use its influence with the Taliban, admitted that Trump’s snapping off diplomacy caught him off-guard.

“We read it in the paper. It should have been at least been discussed with us,” he said.

President Trump lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political wisdom and leadership role for regional peace and development.

This is the second interaction between the two leaders after July this year when they met at the Oval Office during the former’s bilateral visit to Washington and the latter had made the mediation offer on Kashmir.

Trump said he wanted to meet Prime Minister Imran during the UNGA session as he (Imran) wanted to play his role for the regional development.

Referring to the “very aggressive statement” in yesterday’s address of Narendra Modi at a public gathering in Houston, Trump said he trusted Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan, who wanted to work for development of the region.

He said they discussed enhancing the bilateral trade volume between the two countries which was currently very low.