US Envoy Urges India To Release Detained Kashmir Leaders

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Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells – File Pic

WASHINGTON – Top US envoy Alice Wells, who recently visited New Delhi, said her visit offered an opportunity to hear more on developments the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as she urged the Centre for “immediate release of political leaders detained without charge in Kashmir” post the abrogation of Article 370.

“The visit offered an opportunity to hear more regarding developments with India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which is undergoing, I would say, a vigorous democratic scrutiny, whether it’s in streets, by the political opposition, media, or the courts. We continue to underscore the importance of the principle of equal protection under the law,” Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said.

“On Jammu and Kashmir, I was pleased to see some incremental steps, including the partial return of internet service in Kashmir. We also continue to urge the government to permit regular access by our diplomats, and to move swiftly to release those political leaders detained without charge,” Alice Wells said as she described the visit by US ambassador and other foreign diplomats to the Valley as “a useful step”.

Wells, who has just returned from a trip to Asia besides attending an event in the national capital, said India’s broadening strategic horizons over the past two decades have resulted in a shift away from a passive foreign policy to the one that advances Indian interests more vigorously.

“Whether it’s in our growing maritime and naval cooperation, the Quad, India’s Act East Policy, there’s virtually no daylight in our approaches to the Indo-Pacific,” she said. Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger’s remarks at Raisina Dialogue endorsing an Indo-Pacific region stretching from California to Kilimanjaro only further reinforced the strategic convergence, she added.

With continued progress on defence cooperation, peacekeeping operations, space, counterterrorism, trade, people-to-people initiatives, and more, she said the quality and frequency of India-US naval cooperation, especially the information sharing, have reached unprecedented levels.

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