WASHINGTON: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that if elected, he’d like to mediate between India and Pakistan because the region was a “very, very hot tinderbox”.

But like the Obama administration, Mr Trump also said that he would only mediate if both countries asked him to do so.

In a meeting with the Indian community in New Jersey this weekend, the Republican candidate promised that if voted to power, he would make the United States and India “the best of friends” and they would have a “phenomenal future” together.

“There isn’t going to be any relationship more important to us,” he added.

Later, in an interview to The Hindustan Times, Mr Trump expressed his desire to play a role in reducing India-Pakistan tensions.

“Well, I would love to see Pakistan and India get along, because that’s a very, very hot tinderbox,” he said. “That would be a very great thing. I hope they can do it.”

Mr Trump also referred to “the recent problem” in held Kashmir where Indian forces have killed more than 100 demonstrators since July and a terrorist attack in Uri brought the two countries close to yet another armed conflict.

Asked if he would like to play a role, he said, “If it was necessary I would do that. If we could get India and Pakistan getting along, I would be honoured to do that.”

He said that reducing tensions between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed nations would “be a tremendous achievement” and “if they wanted me to, I would love to be the mediator or arbitrator”.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2016