US President Donald Trump on Monday offered to mediate the Kashmir conflict during a joint press conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," Trump said. "If I can do anything to help, let me know."
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from British colonial rule, two of which have centered on the disputed Kashmir region. It remains a sore point in India-Pakistan relations.
Read more: India and Pakistan's troubled history
But the Pakistani government said Trump's offer could mark a turning point for a political solution to the dispute.
"USA is most powerful country in world and it can play a very important role for peace in subcontinent," Khan said, according to a government tweet. "Over a billion people … are held hostage to Kashmir situation and I believe that Donald Trump can bring to two countries together."
However, in a statement issued by a spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry late Monday, there was a denial that any such request had been made by Prime Minister Modi to Trump.
"No such request has been made by the Prime Minister to the US President," Raveesh Kumar said. "It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism."
New way forward
Relations between the US and Pakistan have soured over the past decade. They took a notable downturn when Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, authorized the assassination of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden without informing Islamabad of the operation.
Last year, Trump cut security assistance worth millions of dollars to Pakistan for what he said was the country's failure to combat terrorism.
"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars (€29 billion) in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more," Trump said in a tweet.
Pakistan is hoping to thaw relations and restart military cooperation with the US. According to the Pentagon, Pakistan's army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is to meet with US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, the country's US military officer later this month.
During Khan's visit, Trump also praised Pakistan for "progress" in peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
ls/jm (AFP, Reuters)