UNITED NATIONS - In what appeared to be a departure from its hand-off policy on Pakistan-India disputes, the United States said Monday that it would try and “find its place” in efforts to de-escalate tensions between the two South Asian countries and hinted that President Donald Trump could also get involved in the process.
“It’s absolutely right that this administration is concerned about the relationship between India and Pakistan and very much wants to see how we de-escalate any sort of conflict going forward,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told reporters in response to a question about the continuing tensions in the region stemming from the unresolved Kashmir dispute.
Haley, who is of Indian origin, said she expects that the administration is going to be in talks and try and “find its place to be a part of that (process)”.
“We don’t think, we should wait till something happens,” she said while addressing a press conference after the United States assumes the presidentship of the Security Council for the month of April.
She made the remarks when asked if the US can make any efforts to get India and Pakistan together for peace talks as tensions between the two South Asian neighbours over Kashmir have risen.
“We very much think that we should be proactive in the way that we are seeing tensions rise and conflicts start to bubble up and so we want to see if we can be a part of that,” Haley said.
“So I think that will be something that you will see members of the National Security Council participate in but also wouldn’t be surprised if the president participates in that as well,” she said.
The comments were the first by a member of the Trump administration on the escalating tensions between the South Asian neighbours resulting mainly from refusal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to resume dialogue with Pakistan to try and settle their outstanding problems.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration maintained that Kashmir was a bilateral issue between the two South Asian neighbours and that US has no role to play in it.
India rules out any third party mediation in the Kashmir dispute, while Pakistan has expressed readiness to have interlocutors from both United Nations as well as from United States to resolve the issue.
INDIA SNUBS US OFFER
India’s stand that disputes with Pakistan must be resolved bilaterally and without third party mediation remains unchanged, the external affairs ministry said on Tuesday in response to a US suggestion that President Donald Trump could play a role in de-escalating tension between India and Pakistan.
“The government’s position for bilateral redressal of all India-Pakistan issues in an environment free of terror and violence hasn’t changed. We of course expect the international community and organisations to enforce international mechanisms and mandates concerning terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which continues to be the single biggest threat to peace and stability in our region and beyond,” said Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay, reported NDTV.
Haley is the first Trump administration official to articulate an aspiration to help reduce strains in ties between India and Pakistan. A recent profile in Politico had described Haley as US’s “leading voice on foreign affairs”, as secretary of state Rex Tillerson prefers to remain out of the public eye.
In December 2016, the Pakistan government issued a press release about a phone conversation between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the then US president-elect, where Trump had apparently said that he was “ready and willing to play any role you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems”.
During the US presidential campaign, Trump had told Hindustan Times that “if they wanted me to, I would love to be the mediator or arbitrator”.