EU to send envoys to India, Pak for Kashmir talks
16 April 2002
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The European Union feels that violence in Jammu and Kashmir might escalate in the coming months and has decided to send two top envoys to India and Pakistan. EU foreign policy head Javier Solana will visit India and external affairs commissioner Chris Patten will be send to Pakistan and Afghanistan by next month. Spain foreign minister Josep Pique said on Tuesday that the fighting in the trouble- torn state could escalate after melting of snow in the Himalayan ranges. The statement came after the India-Pakistan standoff was discussed at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. British foreign secretary Jack Straw is reported to have said that the Kashmir might flare up. “There is a danger, given our current understandable focus and preoccupation with the West Asia, that our eye turns away from the intrinsic problems of Kashmir,” Mr Straw has been quoted as saying. The British foreign secretary called for continuous engagement on Kashmir and described the situation as “very, very tense.” The Spanish foreign minister also said that the tension in the region must be de-escalated. “When the snows start melting and the infiltration and fighting season starts we have to see how tension can be kept down,” said Mr Pique said. The Western diplomats have been taking keen interest in the Kashmir situation. They have asked India and Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint and prevent the situation blowing into a full-fledged war between the two nations. New Delhi has already stated that it was in no mood to withdraw its forces from the borders till Pakistan meets its three demands of reduction in cross-border terrorism, infiltration and takes action on the list of 20 criminals. India has been holding a regular dialogue with the European Union on the economic issues. The last India-EU summit had taken place in New Delhi in 2001. So far, two summits have taken place. Senior EU official Chris Patten was here last year before the India-EU summit. The EU delegations have also visited the Kashmir Valley on a number of occasions. The visit by EU envoy assumes significance particularly in light of the upcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.