- "The world would benefit from reduced tensions," a US official said
- Trump willing to mediate to ease tensions on Kashmir, the official said
- India has long rejected any outside role on Kashmir
The United States wants New Delhi to quickly ease restrictions imposed in Kashmir, a senior official said Thursday, declaring President Donald Trump's willingness to mediate to ease tensions between India and Pakistan.
Mr Trump met separately this week with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who are both due to address the UN General Assembly on Friday.
While Mr Trump has forged a close bond with PM Modi, a senior official said that the United States had concerns over the clampdown in the region.
"We hope to see rapid action -- the lifting of the restrictions and the release of those who have been detained," Alice Wells, the top State Department official for South Asia, told reporters.
In August, the centre scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. A wide range of political leaders were detained and cellular and internet service were snapped off amid restrictions. While some measures have been eased, internet and cellular service has remained off in some parts for well over a month.
Ms Wells said the United States has raised concerns on Kashmir "at the highest levels," without saying if Mr Trump brought up Kashmir with PM Modi.
"The United States is concerned by widespread detentions, including those of politicians and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir," Ms Wells said.
"We look forward to the Indian government's resumption of political engagement with local leaders and the scheduling of the promised elections at the earliest opportunity," she said.
"The world would benefit from reduced tensions and increased dialogue between the two countries and, given these factors, the president is willing to mediate if asked by both parties," she added.
On Sunday, Mr Trump joined PM Modi in a joint rally of more than 50,000 Indian-Americans in Houston, with the two heaping praise on each other. He also heard concerns on Kashmir from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan.
India has long rejected any outside role on Kashmir and had quickly shot down the idea after Mr Trump mentioned mediation in a July meeting with Mr Khan.
The centre has said the move will spur economic development in Kashmir and defends the restrictions as temporary means to ensure calm and prevent Pakistan from meddling.
US Snubs Pak PM Imran Khan
In a snub to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Alice Wells characterized Mr Khan's comments on Kashmir as unhelpful, saying: "A lowering of rhetoric would be welcome, especially between two nuclear powers."
She also questioned why Mr Khan was not also speaking out about China, which has detained an estimated one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims.
"I would like to see the same level of concern expressed also about Muslims who have been detained in western China, literally in concentration-like conditions," she said.
China is a major diplomatic and economic partner of Pakistan. Mr Khan, asked about the Uighurs at a think tank on Monday, declined comment, saying that Pakistan had a "special relationship" with China and would only raise issues in private.
The United States has sought to use the annual United Nations summit to build up international pressure on China over its treatment of the Uighurs.
Rights groups and witnesses say that China has been trying to forcibly stop Islamic traditions and integrate Uighurs into the majority Han population. China says it is providing vocational training and discouraging extremism.