U.S. President Donald Trump has offered to mediate what he called the "very explosive" situation in Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region that has been the scene of renewed exchanges of fire between Pakistan and India.
Trump told reporters on August 20 that he will raise the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the weekend, when the two leaders are expected to attend a Group of Seven (G7) summit in southwestern France.
Tensions have increased between Pakistan and India since Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government on August 5 decided to revoke the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir, cut off Internet and phone services, and strictly limited the movements by the public.
Islamabad reacted to India’s move by cutting trade and transport links and expelling the Indian ambassador.
Two out of the three wars Pakistan and India have fought since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 were over control of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region split between the nuclear neighbors but claimed by both countries in its entirety.
Describing the region as a “very complicated place” where the situation is “very explosive,” Trump said he will "do the best I can to mediate."
The G7 consists of Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Britain. India is not part of the grouping, but Modi has been invited to the G7 summit in the city of Biarritz on August 24-26.
During a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister of Imran Khan in July, Trump said Modi had asked him to help mediate the Kashmir dispute -- a claim New Delhi vehemently denied.
Trump’s latest comments came a day after he spoke to the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers, urging them to “work towards reducing tensions.”
"A tough situation, but good conversations!" Trump tweeted after the calls.
The president of Pakistani-ruled Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan, said he welcomed Trump’s efforts to reduce tensions amid concerns of a possible humanitarian crisis in the region.
Also on August 20, Pakistan said it would take the Kashmir dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told ARY News TV that the case will center on alleged human rights violations by India in Kashmir.
Rulings by the United Nations' top court are binding, although it does not have the power to enforce them.
New Delhi, which denies committing human rights violations in Kashmir, did not immediately comment on Qureshi’s announcement.
It came as India said one of its soldiers was killed and four others injured by Pakistani fire on Indian border posts in the region.
India also claimed that it retaliated, causing causalities among Pakistani troops, although there has been no confirmation from Islamabad.
A day earlier, Pakistan said that civilian casualties occurred the previous day because of "unprovoked cease-fire violations" by India.
India has said it was gradually restoring phone lines and easing the lockdown. Public buses were running in rural areas, but troops restricted the movement of people on mostly deserted streets in Srinagar, the region's main city.