Top US Lawmakers Voice Concern Over Kashmir Situation

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Srinagar: Two powerful United States lawmakers have expressed concern over the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the backdrop of abrogation of special status by the government of India in August last year.

“As champions of the US-India relationship, we have been delighted to see our countries’ close cooperation on issues from defense to climate change. It is because of our support for the bilateral relationship that we note with concern that conditions in Jammu and Kashmir have not normalised one year after India’s repeal of Article 370 and the establishment of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory,” Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Michael T McCaul, its Ranking Member wrote in a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on August 5.

“We acknowledge the ongoing serious security and counterterrorism concerns in the region and look forward to working with your government to address these concerns while upholding our shared commitments to the democratic values and freedoms on which our countries’ bond was built,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter which was tweeted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The two top American lawmakers also said that close partnership between the two countries assumes significance in view of the “aggression” that New Delhi faces from Beijing.

“As Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi said in February of this year, our ties ‘are no longer just another partnership. It is a far greater and closer relationship'”, reads the letter

“This closer relationship is all the more important as India faces aggression from China along your shared border, which is part of the Chinese government’s consistent pattern of unlawful and belligerent territorial aggression across the Indo-Pacific,” it adds.

Their remarks came amid the border face-off between India and China in eastern Ladakh.

Twenty Indian army personnel were killed during the clashes with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties in the clashes but it is yet to give out details.

The United States will remain steadfast in support of India’s efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, read the letter.

“As Prime Minister Modi said earlier this year, ‘Unity in diversity and unity’s vibrancy is the key to a strong relationship between India and America’. We look forward to working with you to continue to strengthen and advance this vibrant and consequential relationship,” Engel and McCaul wrote.

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