Buoyed by US President Donald Trump's offer of mediation on Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said today that the contentious issue between the two South Asian neighbours can never be resolved bilaterally.
Imran Khan's statement came hours after Donald Trump offered to be the "mediator" between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as the two leaders met at the White House where they discussed a host of issues, including the Afghan peace process.
The Indian government has denied Donald Trump's astonishing claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate.
Imran Khan, who is on a three-day official visit to the US, welcomed Donald Trump's offer of mediation. "Bilaterally there will never be (a resolution of the Kashmir dispute)," Imran Khan told Fox News.
"There was one point when there was General (Pervez) Musharraf and Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee of India when we did get close to the resolution of the Kashmiri issue. But since then we are poles apart and I really feel that India should come on the table; US could play a big part. President Trump certainly can play a big part," Imran Khan said hours after he met Donald Trump at the Oval Office for the first time at the White House.
"We are talking about 1.3 billion people on this earth. Imagine the dividends of peace if somehow that issue could be resolved," Imran Khan said when Fox news anchor read out the Indian statement that 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. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally," India said on Monday, refuting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ever asked for US mediation on Kashmir.
Imran Khan welcomed Donald Trump's remarks, saying "President, I can tell you that, right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this issue."
Responding to another question, Imran Khan said Pakistan will give up its nuclear weapons if India did so. "Yes, because nuclear war is not an option. Between Pakistan and India, the idea of nuclear war is actually self-destruction because we have two-and-a-half thousand-mile border.
"I think there's a realisation in the subcontinent that and (if) there was some incident happened last February and we again had tensions at the border... So, there's a realisation and that's why I asked, President Trump that if he could play his role, the US as the most powerful country in the world, the only country that could mediate between Pakistan and India and resolve the only issue is Kashmir," he said.
"The only reason for 70 years that we have not been able to live like civilised neighbours is because of Kashmir," Imran Khan said.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based terrorists, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
Earlier this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group killed over 40 soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district.
The Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.