US President Donald Trump has said that he will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in the next few days and claimed that “progress is being made” in diffusing escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Speaking to the media earlier on Monday, the US president confirmed that he will attend a rally being hosted by the Indian diaspora in Houston for Modi and said: “I will see PM Modi and I will – we will be meeting with India and Pakistan.”
“And I think a lot of progress is being made there, a lot of progress,” stressed Trump while referring to the current escalation between the two countries following India’s revocation of occupied Kashmir’s autonomous status.
Both PM Imran and Modi are scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 27 and will be in New York next week. A meeting on the sidelines between the US president and the Pakistani premier is expected.
Trump will also join Modi at a massive gathering of Indian-Americans in Houston in a symbolic show of the bond between the two leaders and countries, said the White House.
The September 22 rally will mark a rare joint appearance between a US president and a foreign leader before an ethnic community, and would be the third meeting between the two this year. Organisers say that more than 50,000 people have registered for the event, which will take place inside the NRG Stadium of the Houston Texans football team.
The rally with Modi indicates that the two countries have turned the page on an incident in July when Trump baffled India by saying, in a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, that Modi had sought mediation on the Kashmir dispute, a flashpoint for conflict between the nuclear-armed powers.
Watch Trump’s media talk here:
India has for decades rejected any outside role in occupied Kashmir. Last month, New Delhi revoked Indian Occupied Kashmir’s autonomous status and snapped communications for much of the Muslim-majority region. India’s actions drew criticism from the UN human rights chief and rights groups, with Pakistan urging pressure on India, although Trump has voiced support for Modi’s actions.
The Indo-Pak tensions deepened on Tuesday with Islamabad brushing off Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s statement claiming New Delhi would “one day extend its physical jurisdiction” to make Azad Jammu and Kashmir a part of India.
“We strongly condemn and reject the inflammatory and irresponsible remarks made by the Indian external affairs minister regarding Pakistan and AJK,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office. “These remarks are an obvious manifestation of India’s utter frustration over the continued international censure of its egregious human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”
(With additional input from AFP.)