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23 Jul, 2019 15:40

Trump sparks diplomatic mess with Kashmir ‘mediator' offer, but his record on mediation isn’t great

Trump sparks diplomatic mess with Kashmir ‘mediator' offer, but his record on mediation isn’t great

Donald Trump has stumbled into the decades-long dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, offering to be a “mediator” in the conflict, seemingly upending longstanding US policy and creating a diplomatic mess.

The US president made the offer at a White House meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, which was supposed to focus on Afghanistan and US-Taliban talks, but quickly veered off course.

After controversially commenting that he could win the war in Afghanistan “in a week”and have the country “wiped off the face of the earth” in ten days if he wanted to, Trump then waded into the Kashmir issue, saying that he would “love to be a mediator” between India and Pakistan. 

Also on rt.com ‘No such request made’: India DENIES Trump was asked to mediate Kashmir crisis

Perhaps unaware of the complexities of the issue, Trump claimed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally asked him to mediate when the two met at the G20 Summit in Japan last month – a request which India’s Ministry of External Affairs quickly denied was ever made, since India’s enduring policy has been that there is no room for any third party in Kashmir talks, which are an “internal matter.”

It was unclear whether Trump was intentionally signaling a shift in previous US policy, which also maintained that the dispute must be solved bilaterally, or if his comment was simply a clumsy mistake – though with the US State Department quickly clarifying that the US still regards Kashmir as a “bilateral issue,” it seems to have been the latter. Pakistan, on the other hand, has sought US help on the matter and Khan told Trump that he would have “the prayers of a billion people” if he could resolve the conflict.

Also on rt.com Trump-Khan meeting: What does US want from Pakistan & will Islamabad kowtow to pressure?

Kashmir has been divided between India, Pakistan and China since the 1947 partition of India following the departure of British colonizers. Islamabad and New Delhi have been at loggerheads over the issue ever since. Earlier this year, the two nuclear-armed powers came to the brink of war, after a suicide bombing –claimed by a Pakistani group– killed 40 Indian troops.

The Trump administration’s history of mediation hasn’t been a great one so far. The US President has a tendency to bumble into hot-button issues around the world without much grace or diplomatic skill.

Trump entered office promising to bring peace to Israel and Palestine and to solve a conflict none of his predecessors could manage, but when he put his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of peace in the Middle East, the odd choice set alarm bells ringing.

Also on rt.com ‘Trump’s $50-billion Middle East plan is a win-win for Israel & a loss for Palestine’

Then, Trump’s blatantly pro-Israel moves –including relocating the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights– called into question his administration’s ability to be a neutral arbiter in the conflict. Many analysts believed his plans to deliver peace to the region were dead in the water from the outset.

In the works for two years, the details of this “deal of the century” have still not been fully revealed, but the economic part of the deal was announced earlier this month. It offers a $50 billion economic development plan for Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon – and would require five million Palestinian refugees to surrender their claims to land which they were forced to leave in 1948. It was regarded by many analysts simply as a US effort to bribe Palestinians with money. When the Palestinian Authority rejected the deal, Kushner called them “hysterical and erratic.” 

Also on rt.com ‘Nuclear war is not an option’: Pakistani PM says he’d give up nukes if India did so too

Trump’s tendency to bumble into tricky international situations has been on display in other areas, too. With trade talks ongoing with China, Trump announced recently that any deal made between the two countries must be “better for us than for them” – hardly the best way to encourage good faith negotiations.

With Trump’s mere offer to act as a mediator in the Kashmir dispute setting off a diplomatic crisis of sorts, most onlookers won’t be holding out hope that he will be able to solve a decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan, either.

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