Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday told United States Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper that Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter of India, PTI reported. A statement by the Ministry of Defence said Esper appreciated New Delhi’s stance on the troubled region.

Singh had a telephonic conversation with Esper. “The Minister raised the issue of cross-border terrorism affecting India and appreciated U.S. support for India’s efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” the statement added, according to The Hindu. “He said that issues relating to Article 370 are an internal matter of India which are aimed at improving growth and economic development, democracy and prosperity for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The statement added that Esper hoped that any problems between India and Pakistan will be resolved bilaterally.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told US President Donald Trump over phone that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace”.

“He [Modi] highlighted the importance of creating an environment free from terror and violence and eschewing cross-border terrorism without exception,” a statement read. The prime minister also reasserted India’s commitment towards combating poverty, illiteracy and disease.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have reached a new high after the Indian government rescinded the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. Pakistan on Tuesday decided to appeal to the International Court of Justice over the Kashmir dispute. Earlier, Pakistan had downgraded diplomatic ties and stopped trade.

Trump stoked a controversy last month when he claimed during a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that Modi had asked him to intervene in the Kashmir dispute. India categorically denied the US president’s claim. On Monday, Trump told Khan to reduce tensions between Pakistan and India.

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