Kashmir developments came up in External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s bilateral meeting with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo before the 2+2 ministerial dialogue as had been expected, but the discussion was brief and did not cast a shadow on the broader talks that followed.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the other issue that has received a lot of attention in the US, came up at the external affairs minister’s meeting with the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Jim Risch (Republican) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez (Democrat).
US officials had said in the run-up to the second 2+2 ministerial that they expected their side to raise Kashmir and CAA as part of an ongoing dialogue between the two countries on human rights issues even though it was not on the agenda.
“Secretary Pompeo and I had a brief discussion on that (Kashmir),” Jaishankar told reporters on Thursday in response to a question if Kashmir was discussed. “I shared with him that direction of the events was positive.”
“Obviously, things will happen at their time,” he added in a reference to the normalization of the situation.
The minister was prepared for these discussions. “It’s natural that when a foreign minister of a country comes and people have an interest in that country and the relationship that they raise issues which are of interest to them and, I think any conscientious foreign minister will present what is their country’s view point and that was essentially what happened.”
It could not be immediately ascertained if the CAA came up at the minister’s bilateral with Pompeo. But later in the day it was discussed at his meeting with the SFRC leadership. “They wanted my perspective on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” the minister said, adding, “I gave them a more accurate picture than they had been getting from whatever they read.”
The Indian team had called off a similar meeting with the leadership of the House foreign affairs committee, but the minister did meet the leaders of the panel’s subcommittee that deals with India and other regions over dinner at the residence of the Indian ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the night before. The lawmakers who attended were two Democrats — Indian American Congressman Ami Bera who heads that panel and Brad Sherman, the previous chairman — and two Republicans — Ranking Member Ted Yoho and Francis Rooney.
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