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India rejects scope for third party mediation to resolve Kashmir issue

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New Delhi, Feb 16: India on Sunday rejected any scope for third party mediation to resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.

UN Secretary General António Guterres

In a statement, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said:"Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and will continue to be an integral part of India. The issue that needs to be addressed is that of vacation of the territories illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan. Further issues, if any, would be discussed bilaterally. There is no role or scope for third party mediation."

The statement comes against the backdrop of some remarks made by the UN Secretary General António Guterres who is on a visit to Pakistan.

Guterres said on Sunday it was important for India and Pakistan to de-escalate "militarily and verbally" and exercise "maximum restraint" as he began his four-day visit to the country, amidst tense relationship between the two nuclear armed neighbours.

Addressing a press conference after his meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the UN Secretary-General said he was "deeply concerned" over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and tensions along the Line of Control.

"Diplomacy and dialogue remain the only tools that guarantee peace and stability with solutions in accordance with the Charter of United Nations and resolutions of the Security Council," Guterres told reporters.

He emphasised the importance to "de-escalate, both militarily and verbally" while talking about relations between Pakistan and India. Guterres said he had "repeatedly stressed the importance of exercising maximum restraint". "I offered my good offices from the beginning. I am ready to help if both countries agree for mediation," he said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after New Delhi abrogated ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year.

India's decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded its diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy. India has defended its move, saying the special status provisions only gave rise to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

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