On Monday, United States President Donald Trump said that he is willing to “help” India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir issue if “they want” but did not, significantly, use words such as “mediate” or “intervene” that he has several times in recent weeks to much irritation in New Delhi and elation in Islamabad.
But given the range of words the American president has used to frame his offer of intervention — “mediate”, “intervene” and “arbitrate”, and variations of those words it was not clear if “help” marked a departure because he has used that word before as an alternative for “intervene”.
“I’m willing to help them,” Trump told reporters in response to a question. “I get along well with both countries very well. I’m willing to help if they want.”
He also said that India-Pakistan tensions were a “little bit less heated right now than it was two weeks ago”.
“Help”, the word Trump used Monday, is closer to the longstanding position of the United States, that has been restated by the state department and the White House in the aftermath of the president’s interventions: that India and Pakistan must resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally and through direct dialogue, and the United States stands ready to “assist”.
“If you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that,” he had said, buttressing his offer with a claim that he had been asked even by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Despite a swift Indian rejection of the offer and a denial of the claim about Modi’s invitation, Trump doubled down on it in an interaction with reporters 10 days later on August 1, volunteering himself “if they wanted somebody to intervene or to help (that word, used interchangeably with intervene) them—and I spoke with Pakistan about that, and I spoke, frankly, to India about it”.
Later in the month, on August 20, Trump said, addressing a joint news briefing with visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, “I will do the best I can to mediate or do something.”