India, Pak shouldn’t let 3rd party mediate, says Macron as Trump offers help

French president Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak at the Chateau of Chantilly, north of Paris on August 22. Photo: PTI

The governments of the US and France have expressed their concern, albeit with contrasting stances, over the deteriorating relations between India and Pakistan after the abrogation of Article 370 by India, that provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

While US president Donald Trump has expressed his willingness to “assist” both the countries over the Kashmir issue if approached, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron has said that India and Pakistan should resolve the issue bilaterally without the interference of a third party.

US President Donald Trump is “ready to assist” India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue if both sides ask for it, the White House said on Thursday, even as Washington was “very closely” monitoring the situation.

India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir issue bilaterally and no third party should “interfere or incite” violence in the region, French president Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday (August 22) after his marathon one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two leaders reviewed the entire gamut of the dynamic and multi-faceted bilateral relationship during their more than 90-minute long meeting at Chateau de Chantilly. The two countries signed four MoUs after the talks.

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In a joint press statement after the talks, Macron said Modi briefed him about the recent decision taken by India on Jammu and Kashmir and that it is in their sovereignty. “I told him that India and Pakistan will have to find a solution to the issue and no third party should interfere or incite violence in the region,” Macron said. He said that peace should be maintained in the region and people’s rights should be protected.

“I will also speak to Pakistan prime minister after a few days and tell him that the talks should be held bilaterally,” the French president said. He said the relationship between India and France is not based on any selfishness, but on solid ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. He said India and France will expand cooperation in counter terrorism and security.

“Both our countries are constantly facing terrorism. We thank president Macron for the valuable support that France has received in combating cross-border terrorism. We intend to broaden cooperation on security and counter-terrorism,” Modi added. He said France and India stand firm together to meet the challenges of climate change, environment, and technology inclusive development. “Together we can pave the way for a safe and prosperous world,” Modi said. In a joint statement issued after the talks, the two leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism and terror-related incidents in France and India. “Both leaders reaffirmed that terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds whatsoever and it should not be associated with any religion, creed, nationality and ethnicity,” it said.

Recalling the joint statement on terrorism adopted by the two countries in January 2016, the two leaders reaffirmed their strong determination to eliminate terrorism wherever it is to be found and urged the international community to strengthen the efforts to counter and prevent terrorist financing. “Both the leaders agreed to work for early convening of the Global Conference, proposed by India, to tackle the threat of terrorism around the world,” the statement said.

Also read: Would be unwise to turn to Pakistan as strategic partner, says US expert

They called upon all UN member countries to implement the UNSC Resolution 1267 and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities. The leaders also agreed to work together on early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN. The two leaders also agreed to enhance their operational cooperation and launch fresh efforts to prevent and fight radicalisation, especially online radicalisation.

Identifying defence industrial cooperation as one of the mainstays of the strategic partnership between India and France, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen cooperation in this field. On trade, they decided to further strengthen work on solving trade and investment issues of concern for the French and Indian companies, including by additional ways and mechanisms. They agreed to reactivate the high-level France-India economic and financial dialogue as quickly as possible. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress in negotiations between NPCIL and EDF since the conclusion of the Industrial Way Forward Agreement between the two parties in 2018 for the construction of six nuclear power reactors in India in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.

The White House, meanwhile on Thursday issued a statement saying that US President Donald Trump is “ready to assist” India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue if both sides ask for it, and that Washington was “very closely” monitoring the situation. “The United States is watching the situation in Kashmir very closely. We are continuing to call for calm and restraint, including on rhetoric,” a senior administration official said ahead of the bilateral meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of G7 Summit in France over the weekend.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality. According to the official, Trump is “very focused” on the situation in Kashmir because of the broader implications of the developments in Jammu and Kashmir and the potential for increased stability in the region.

“What he (Trump) has indicated that he is ready to assist if both sides are interested in helping to reduce their tension. But we just know that India has not requested any formal mediation, the official said requesting anonymity. The official said that President Trump, during his meeting with Modi in France will likely want to hear how he intends to calm regional tensions in the aftermath of his decisions on Kashmir.

“The president will likely want to hear from Prime Minister Modi on how he plans to reduce regional tensions and uphold respect for human rights in Kashmir, as part of India’s role as the world’s largest democracy,” he said.

Trump on Tuesday said that he was willing to either mediate or do something to resolve the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. But New Delhi has made it clear to the US that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and there was no role for a third party.

According to the official, in light of this significant move by Modi on Kashmir, the president is likely to stress the need for dialogue among all sides of the conflict and he hopes that India will lift communication and movement restrictions in Kashmir and exercise utmost restrain in dealing with potential protests. Trump has said that he is friends with both the leaders of India and Pakistan and stands ready to assist if they both would like him to do so”, the official said.

“Certainly, president Trump is also calling on Pakistan to prevent infiltration of militants across the Line of Control that divides Kashmir and to crack down on groups on its territory that have attacked India in the past, said the official. Trump, the official said, is very much looking forward to his meetings with Prime Minister Modi where they will discuss the strategic partnership and how they can cooperate more closely on issues like defence cooperation, counterterrorism and trade.

“We expect the two leaders to build on a very productive discussion they had in Osaka at the G-20 as well as the phone call that they held earlier this week. They will look for solutions on the trade front. The US is looking to India to reduce tariffs and open its market,” said the official.