MEPs visit to Kashmir was a surprise to us, says EU official

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The recent visit by some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Kashmir had surprised European Union authorities, an EU official said on Thursday. The EU fully recognises Indian concerns on Kashmir while expressing concern for the rights of Kashmiris, he added.“Our position on Kashmir is very clear: Full recognition of the very legitimate security concerns of India but equally strong concern for the rights of all Kashmiris. The respect for the fundamental rights of all people,” said Christian Leffler, Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Global Issues at European External Action Service. Observing that a certain degree of normalcy “has come back” in Kashmir, but not “for all” as yet, he said: “That remains a concern for us, which is well known”.

On the MEPs visit, Mr. Leffler observed that “it was a visit that came as a surprise to many of us” and was not organised in the usual manner of visits, adding that it must have been a surprise to the Indian Lok Sabha as well. He was speaking at a discussion on “European Union and India: strategic partners on multilateralism and global governance” jointly organised by Brookings India and the Delegation of European Union to India.Last month, the government had allowed 23 MEPs, who were on an unofficial trip to India, to visit Kashmir that had hitherto been closed to even Indian MPs since the August 5 revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370.

Mr. Leffler said there was need for a stable and sustainable solution for the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan and it had to be done “by a dialogue between the two parties”. “We fully understand the security concerns that Indian authorities have on Kashmir,” he observed, adding that EU had raised them with Pakistan in the past.

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