President Donald Trump offered to help resolve India and Pakistan's long-running conflict over Kashmir - citing an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the government later denied.
"If you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that," Trump told Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, at a White House meeting on Monday.
Khan said that Trump would have the prayers of millions of people if he succeeded. Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they were partitioned from British India in 1947, two of them over Kashmir. The two countries, both of which possess nuclear weapons, continue to engage in occasional skirmishes.
Trump said it was PM Modi who first asked him to intervene. "I was with Prime Minister Modi, two weeks ago, and we talked about this subject, and he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?' I said, 'where?' He said 'Kashmir.'"
Trump met with PM Modi at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, at the end of June. But spokesman for the External Affairs Ministry, Raveesh Kumar, said on Twitter that "no such request" has been made by the Prime Minister.
"It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally," he said in a pair of tweets.
It would be unusual for India to formally seek Trump's help - or any kind of mediation - on Kashmir. New Delhi has long maintained that it's a bilateral dispute.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has generally taken every opportunity to seek outside help, in part because it helps keep global attention on the issue.
There's been tension between the US and Pakistan since Trump cut off security aid to the nation in 2018, saying it wasn't doing enough to combat terrorism. But Trump said Monday he believed he'd get along well with Khan, and that their two countries could greatly expand their trade.
"I've heard so much about Kashmir, it's such a beautiful name, it's supposed to to be such a beautiful part of the world," Trump said. "But right now there's just bombs all over the place, they say everywhere you go, you have bombs, and it's a terrible situation, been going on for many years. If I can do anything about that, let me know."
The co-chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California, and George Holding, a Republican from North Carolina, didn't embrace Trump's offer of assistance.
"Consistent with decades of US policy, we believe the dispute over Kashmir must be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan," they said.
Last week, Trump bemoaned the demand on his time after he said South Korea's president, Moon Jae-In, had asked him to mediate a dispute with Japan's government.
"I said, 'How many things do I have to get involved in?"' Trump said on Friday. "It's like a full-time job, getting involved between Japan and Korea."
With assistance from Iain Marlow
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