UN Chief Urges All Parties to Avoid Escalation in Kashmir During Meeting With Modi

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to avoid any sort of escalation in Kashmir during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in the French town of Biarritz, according to his spokesman.

Addressing a press briefing here, the Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Monday said that the two leaders had a “long and fruitful discussion” on climate change.

Responding to a question, he said the issue of Kashmir came up during their meeting.

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“For the Secretary-General’s part, he reiterated the message that he has been saying publicly, and that’s basically a need for all parties to avoid any sort of escalation,” Dujarric said.

The two leaders were in France to attend the G7 Summit.

Briefing the reporters in Biarritz on Monday, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said that there was some discussion on Kashmir between Prime Minister Modi and the UN chief.

“Prime Minister has laid out our basic position, on the internal matter that the Article 370 is under the Constitution, on the fact that on the international front no step has been taken by India in any way or form to threaten regional peace and stability,” Gokhale said responding to a question.

The prime minister told Guterres that normalcy is returning to Jammu and Kashmir, and that in many areas restrictions have been substantially eased or entirely removed, he said.

Gokhale said the prime minister also underlined that the “people in the state have faced terrorism for 30 or more years and this is the primary threat, this is our concern and that therefore in keeping with that certain restrictions will remain in place to ensure that law and order is maintained and will be progressively lifted.”

This was the first meeting between the two leaders after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan.

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India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

A rare closed-door consultations on Kashmir by the UN Security Council earlier this month ended without any outcome or statement from the powerful 15-nation UN organ, dealing a huge snub to Pakistan and its all-weather ally China to internationalise the issue, which an overwhelming majority stressed is a bilateral matter between New Delhi and Islamabad.

On Monday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he will raise the Kashmir issue at every international forum, including at the UN General Assembly.

Khan’s address to the nation came after Prime Minister Modi, during his meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France on Monday, categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

Soon after Khan’s speech, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi met with UN General Assembly president Maria Fernanda Espinosa here and briefed her about the situation in Kashmir.