India snubs new UN chief, rejects mediation on Kashmir issue

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NEW DELHI: India has again reiterated that only a bilateral solution to the Kashmir issue is possible, amid signs that new United Nations (UN) secretary general Antonio Gutterres was looking at ways to break the deadlock between the two nations.

Responding to reports that Guterres was considering opening a conversation with senior Indian and Pakistani officials on Kashmir, government sources said, “Our position on addressing all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally has not changed.”

Guterres’ spokesperson Farhan Haq was quoted as saying that the secretary general “will talk to different officials if it helps (to) move the process along. That’s something that he is looking into. Beyond that, I have nothing new to say about the issue”.

Haq was answering journalists’ questions about the situation in Kashmir, and if Guterres had been able to understand the Kashmir dispute and would he be talking to PM Narendra Modi to start a dialogue with Pakistan.

When asked if there was a timeline as to when the UN chief would talk to leaders from the two countries, Haq said that, as with any number of long-running situations, there were “a lot of complex issues” that needed to be examined. The UN chief “will… certainly…try to see what can be done to improve the situation on the ground”, Haq said.

Pakistan has repeatedly asked the UN to intervene in Kashmir, particularly after the months-long unrest and violence in the Kashmir Valley last year.

Guterres’ predecessor Ban Ki-moon had expressed concern at the violence, but refrained from offering facilitation or mediation. India has been opposed to any third party involvement since 1972.

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