No scope of third party role on Kashmir issue: Sushma Swaraj
New Delhi, Dec 28: The Central government after one month and five days finally gave the clarification on the visit of former Norway PM Kjell Magne Bondevik to Jammu & Kashmir.
In a statement in Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Bondevik was on a private visit to India at the invitation of Art of Living and added the government was not involved in organising his visit.
Swaraj further clarified that under Simla Agreement and as reiterated in Lahore Declaration, India and Pakistan are committed to addressing issues bilaterally. “There’s no scope for 3rd party role and there’s no change in government’s consistent and principled position on Kashmir,” she stated.
The former Norwegian PM, who is also the president of Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights, had visited the valley in November and met top separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik besides holding talks with delegations of the KCCI and the High Court Bar Association.
His visit sparked quite a row and the Congress accused the Narendra Modi-led government of undermining India’s national security by allowing a “third party meditation”. Addressing a press conference Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala slammed the Centre for bowing down before terrorism, extremism and Naxalism.
On the other hand, Farooq Abdullah, former J&K Chief Minister, had urged the Centre to clarify its stand on Bondevik’s visit and said that his visit would have been impossible without a go-ahead from the Centre. The J&K National Conference chairman also asked if the government was ready to hold talks with the separatists.