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Trump encourages Pakistan, India to ‘just work it out’

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Prime Minister Imran Khan of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, speaks with reporters during their bilateral meeting Monday, July 22, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
September 26, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he encouraged the leaders of Pakistan and India in separate meetings in New York to work out their differences, including their decades-long dispute over the divided region of Kashmir.

“I said, ‘Fellas, work it out. Just work it out,'” Trump told reporters on September 25 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Those are two nuclear countries. They’ve got to work it out,” he added.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over control of Kashmir, the divided Himalayan region claimed by both countries in its entirety.

Tensions between the two rivals escalated after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5 revoked the special status of the Indian-administered portion of Kashmir.

Indian authorities imposed a widespread curfew in the region and cut off residents from all communications and the Internet.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the United States to take up the Kashmir issue, even suggesting that Trump act as a mediator, but India has long refused outside intervention.

Khan warned on September 24 of the consequences over what he called a brutal Indian crackdown in Kashmir.

“For 50 days, the people of Kashmir have been locked down by 900,000 soldiers,” Khan said, citing mass arrests, nonfunctioning hospitals, and “a total news blackout.”

“Eight million people in an open jail is unprecedented in this day and age,” Khan said.

“The biggest worry is what happens once the curfew is lifted? We fear with 900,000 soldiers there, there will be a massacre.”

India’s ambassador to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, said in a recent interview that a meeting between Modi and Khan was unlikely.

“There has to be an enabling environment before leaders meet,” he said. “Today, the talk that is emanating from Pakistan is certainly not conducive to that enabling environment.”