EU refuses mediation in held Kashmir
4 September 2003
The News International
HELD SRINAGAR: Despite a recent escalation in violence in held Kashmir, European diplomats said during a tour of the region that things appeared to be getting better.'The situation has improved in all sectors and we got a positive impression during our stay here,' Benedetto Amari Italy's Ambassador to India told reporters. He said the good outlook was due to 'fair elections' in the occupied Kashmir last year and 'the offer of peace and friendship' by the Indian prime minister to Pakistan in a speech he made in April.Amari's comments came after two weeks of fierce fighting in the occupied Kashmir. Nearly 90 people have been killed and over 100 wounded in militant attacks and gunbattles between occupation forces and Kashmiri pro-freedom guerrillas.European diplomats have been visiting occupied Kashmir every year since 1993 to meet residents, pro-freedom leader and Indian officials to get a firsthand assessment of the situation. The EU ambassadors' delegation - consisting of Amari, Ireland's Philip McDonagh, and the European Commission's Michel Caillouet - arrived in held Srinagar, on Monday on a five-day visit.Apart from meetings with the occupied Kashmir's top elected official, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the envoys also met separately with leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC).Meanwhile, Amari said the European Union has no intention to mediate between India and Pakistan. 'Kashmir is a bilateral issue that India and Pakistan will settle among themselves. But we don't exclude the possibility of asking both what the EU could do to facilitate, a resumption of talks between them,' he said.