US President claim on Kashmir rocks Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: Amid a massive controversy over US President Donald Trump’s claim on Kashmir mediation, India today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi never made any such request to the US leader and reiterated that Kashmir is a
bilateral issue.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in Rajya Sabha that all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally, thereby ruling out any third party mediation.

“I would like to categorically state that no such request has been made by the prime minister to the US President,” he said after Congress and other opposition parties raised the issue of the claim made by Trump in his meeting with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington on Monday.

He said it has been the consistent position of India that all outstanding issues with Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally.

“Any engagement with Pakistan will require an end to cross border terrorism,” he said, adding Shimla and Lahore accords signed between India and Pakistan provide the basis for resolution of all issues bilaterally.

Opposition parties were, however, not satisfied by the statement by the External Affairs Minister and wanted the Prime Minister to come to the House and clarify. This led to heated exchanges between opposition benches and Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, who adjourned proceedings till 12 noon.

Jaishankar noted that on Monday the US President had in his talks with Khan stated that he is ready to mediate on the Kashmir issue, if requested. ‘No such request was made to the US President,’ he said adding his statement on the floor of the House should leave no confusion in minds of countrymen.

Earlier, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said he has received notice under Rule 267, requiring suspension of business of the day, from Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma and CPI’s D Raja.

Venkaiah said he is not admitting the notice but considering its importance he would allow it to be raised in form of a Zero Hour mention to which the External Affairs Minister would like to respond. But before that the country should be seen as speaking in one voice on the sensitive issue of national importance, Venkaiah said.