Envoys from 15 countries in Srinagar at the start of a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday. (Express/File)
The US State Department has described the recent visit of envoys of 15 countries to Jammu and Kashmir as an “important step” but expressed concern over the continued detention of political leaders and restrictions on internet in the region.
The restrictions were imposed on August 5, when India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.
In the first such trip by foreign diplomats since August 5, envoys of 15 countries, including the US, visited Jammu and Kashmir last week and interacted with select political representatives, civil society members as well as top military brass, with the Indian government rejecting criticism that it was a “guided tour”.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells, who will be travelling to South Asia this week, expressed on Saturday hope that the region would return to normalcy.
“Closely following @USAmbIndia & other foreign diplomats’ recent trip to Jammu & Kashmir. Important step. We remain concerned by detention of political leaders and residents, and Internet restrictions. We look forward to a return to normalcy,” she said in a tweet.
Wells will travel to New Delhi from January 15-18 to attend the Raisina Dialogue. She will also meet senior government officials to advance the US-India strategic global partnership following the success of the 2019 US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, and will discuss topics of mutual interest with members of the business community and civil society.
From New Delhi, Wells will fly to Islamabad, where she will meet Pakistan’s top officials and members of civil society to discuss issues of bilateral and regional concern.