15 foreign envoys visit J&K at govt. invitation

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By Aminul Islam Mirja

NEW DELHI, Jan 9, 2020 (BSS) – A group of 15 foreign envoys stationed in New Delhi, including the US ambassador Kenneth Juster, are in Jammu and Kashmir today in a government organized two-day visit to “see first-hand efforts to normalize the situation” there.

This is the first type of visit in Jammu and Kashmir by the foreign envoys following revocation of the region’s special status and splitting it into two Union Territories (UTs) in August last year.

The team also comprises ambassadors and high commissioners from Bangladesh, South Korea, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Guyana, Argentina, Norway, the Philippines, the Maldives, Togo, Fiji, Peru and Vietnam.

The group is also accompanied by senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry, Indian foreign ministry sources said.

During the visit, the envoys first talked to the security officials to get a sense of security situation in J&K, and also threat posed by terrorism in maintaining peace, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told media this afternoon.

“Objective of the visit was for the envoys to see first-hand the efforts which have been made by government to normalize situation there,” he said at the weekly media briefing here.

The envoys were also taken to Srinagar where they met panchayat members and representatives of civil societies and NGOs.

Besides, envoys of the European Union (EU) had skipped the visit saying that they did not want a “guided tour” of Jammu and Kashmir although they welcomed the idea of a trip to Jammu and Kashmir, NDTV reported.

In the weekly briefing Raveesh Kumar, however, termed the criticism that it was a “guided tour” unfounded.

He said similar visit to Jammu and Kashmir can be organised in future including by EU envoys.

Besides, parliamentarians from EU had visited Jammu and Kashmir in October last year, three months after the government scrapped the special status of the state granted under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two union territories.