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On Kashmir negotiations, India makes Trump look bad (again)

Updated

Last week, Donald Trump welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Oval Office, and the American president was asked about possibly playing a diplomatic role in Kashmir. Trump told a curious story about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally inviting him to help oversee negotiations.

“I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about this subject,” the Republican asserted. “And he actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’ I said, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Kashmir.’”

Trump went on to say that Modi “asked” him to help resolve the conflict, adding, “I’ve heard so much about Kashmir. Such a beautiful name.”

The story was impossible to accept at face value. As we discussed last week, India has never wanted outside involvement on Kashmir, and the idea that its prime minister would reach out directly to this American president – an easily confused amateur who knows nothing about the dispute – and ask him to serve as a mediator, seemed bizarre.

So, whatever happened to the Indian prime minister’s alleged invitation? The Associated Press reported this morning that it was Trump who made himself available, and it’s India that isn’t interested.

India on Friday again rejected President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.

India’s foreign minister said he told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that any discussion of the disputed Himalayan region would be between India and Pakistan only. The two men met on Friday on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in Bangkok. India has long refused outside attempts to resolve the conflict while Pakistan has sought international help.

During a brief Q&A with the White House’s Larry Kudlow last week, a reporter asked, “The president said that he’d been asked by Indian Prime Minister Modi to alleviate between India and Pakistan. India says that’s not even close to true. Did the president just make that up, sir?”

Kudlow replied, “No, the president doesn’t make anything up.”

There’s a whole lot of evidence to the contrary.

Let this serve as a reminder to Trump: if he’s going to describe a conversation that only occurred in his mind, it’s a bad idea to make up quotes from real people who are capable of speaking for themselves. The president is much better off sticking to “anonymous validators.”