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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

‘Criticism that this is a guided tour is unfounded’: MEA on visit of envoys to J&K

This is the first visit by diplomats since August last year when the Jammu and Kashmir's special status was revoked by diluting Article 370 and made into a union territory.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 9, 2020 8:00:28 pm
CAA protests, foreign countries on CAA protests, Citizenship law, indian diplomats, diplomats on caa, caa protests india, foreign reaction to citizenship act, citizenship amendment act, National register of citizens, MEA on CAA, MEA on NRC, India on CAA MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

The Ministry of External Affairs Thursday said the visit of 15 foreign envoys, including the United States, to Jammu and Kashmir was facilitated by the Government of India, the objective of which was to show first-hand the efforts made by the Centre to normalise the situation. Visiting envoys were from the US, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Maldives, Morocco, Fiji, Norway, Philippines, Argentina, Peru, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, and Guyana.

The MEA denied that this visit by envoys is a ‘guided tour’. “Criticism that this is a guided tour is unfounded,” said Kumar.

This is the first visit by diplomats since August last year when the Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked by diluting Article 370 and made into a union territory.

Army soldiers guard on top of their armored vehicle as a convoy of New Delhi-based diplomats passes through Srinagar, Kashmir, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

The Delhi-based envoys, who came here on a special chartered flight, landed at Srinagar’s technical airport and were taken directly to the army cantonment for a briefing. Top officials from the newly-carved out union territory of Jammu and Kashmir received the delegation.

A convoy of New Delhi-based diplomats passes through Srinagar, Kashmir, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

During a press briefing here in the national capital, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar was asked why European Union envoys were not part of the visit to Jammu and Kashmir, to which he replied: “EU envoys wanted to visit Kashmir in a group. We did not extend invite to all.”

Security vehicles of police guard a convoy of New Delhi-based diplomats passing through Srinagar, Kashmir, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

Similar visit to Kashmir, said Kumar, can be organised in future including by EU envoys. “We wanted this group to be of manageable size and make it broad based representing different geographical regions. When we approached them they welcomed the decision. Our understanding is that they wanted to visit in a group. You’re aware, on many issues they take group position. Invitation wasn’t sent to all members because it would have made the delegation too big,” added Kumar.

Delegation of 15 foreign envoys meets political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir. (Source: ANI)

Asked about political leaders who met the group, Kumar said the visit by the envoys to Kashmir is not yet over.

This visit by envoys is part of the government’s diplomatic outreach to rebut Pakistan’s propaganda on the Kashmir issue. The envoys are expected to meet Lt Governor G C Murmu as well as civil society members.

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