August 2001 News

Annan for Kashmir solution through bilateral dialogue

26 August 2001
The News International
Aamir Ghauri

LONDON: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan prefers to see the Kashmir problem solved through bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan and tacitly admits that the role for the United Nations in the 54-year old imbroglio has decreased over the years.Annan, who is currently holidaying in Norway, expressed his preference in his meeting with the former Norwegian prime minister and Christian People''s Party (KrF) candidate for the next premiership in the September 10 elections, Kjell Magne Bondevik, over the last weekend.In a telephonic conversation, Mr Bondevik told The News that the secretary general fully understands the severity of the Kashmir problem as the ''most dangerous flashpoint'' in the world ''and he is appreciative of the dialogue process initiated between Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee and supports the continuation of this process''.Bondevik raised the issue of Kashmir along with the other continuing conflict-ridden areas with the secretary general in a private meeting and reminded the latter of the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir promising its people a right of self-determination. ''It is a difficult issue and the secretary general wants both New Delhi and Islamabad to reach an agreement bilaterally,'' Bondevik said.Domestically speaking, Bondevik wants Norway to link its support to the Indian aspirations for a permanent seat in the UNSC with a solution of Kashmir issue. He promised to use Norway''s UNSC membership [non-permanent though] to seek a fair solution for the Kashmir problem ''according to the aspirations of its people'', if his party formed a government as a result of the next month''s election.When asked if the secretary general saw any substantial role for the international body created in 1945 to eliminate war and conflict in the world to back the bumpy and uncertain talks process between India and Pakistan, Bondevik said ''he [Kofi Annan] did not say anything about it''.


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