India rejects mediation offer by UN chief Antonio Guterres

New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday rejected an offer of mediation proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Kashmir, saying the focus instead should be on getting vacated the territories that are "illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan”.

Guterres said on Sunday in Islamabad that it was important for India and Pakistan to de-escalate "militarily and verbally" and exercise "maximum restraint." He is on a four-day visit to Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference after his meeting with 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.

Also Read: UN Chief Antonio Guterres to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib during trip to Pakistan

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, in response to a media query about comments made by Guterres in Islamabad, was firm and unequivocal.

“India’s position has not changed. 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,”

“We hope the UN Secretary-General would emphasise on the imperative for Pakistan to take a credible, sustained and irreversible action to put an end to cross-border terrorism against India, which threatens the most fundamental human right - the right to life, of the people of India, including in J&K,” he added.

The UN chief had addressed the press conference along with Qureshi. “I have offered my good offices in relation to the dispute,’’ he had said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after New Delhi abrogated 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 had only given rise to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.