Ex-Norway PM Was On Private Visit To J&K: GoI

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NEW DELHI — The government of India was not involved in organising the visit and meetings of former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik to Jammu and Kashmir, and he was on a private visit to India, clarified External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday. The response came after Bondevik paid ‘surprise’ visits to top separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir including Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq last month.

Responding to the matter in Rajya Sabha, Swaraj said: “According to available information, former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik was on a private visit to India at the invitation of the Art of Living International Centre (Ved Vigyan Maha Vidya Peeth), Bengaluru. He reportedly visited Jammu and Kashmir on November 23 and met representatives of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jammu and Kashmir Youth Development Forum, All Party Hurriyat Conference. Government of India was not involved in organising the visit and meetings.”

“It has also been reported that he (Bondevik) visited Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir from November 24-27,” she added.

Underlining that there is no scope for any third party role or mediation in the Kashmir issue, Swaraj further said: “There is no change in the government’s consistent and principled position that under the Simla Agreement (1972) and as reiterated in the Lahore Declaration (1999), both India and Pakistan are committed to address all outstanding issues bilaterally”.

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