September 2006 News

European Union not to mediate on Kashmir issue

19 September 2006
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: Stressing a mutually agreed, peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, Asko Numminen, Ambassador of Finland, said on Monday that the European Union did not see any possibility of mediating between India and Pakistan as the talks were heading in the right direction. He also said relations between India and the EU were in a very dynamic and fast growing stage. In an exclusive interview to The Hindu , Mr. Numminen, whose country is currently presiding over the EU, said to boost relations between the EU and India, a summit was scheduled in Helsinki on October 13. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would lead the Indian delegation. Discussions on security 'At this summit, the strategic partnership will be reviewed, and further steps to strengthen the relations would be discussed,' he said. All key areas such as security, economics, trade and cultural relations would be discussed. Mr. Numminen, on a fact-finding mission to Jammu and Kashmir with EU's head of delegation in India Francisco da Camara Santa Clara Gomes, said, 'The EU has always taken interest with regard to Kashmir. We have conducted missions annually more or less in the same fashion.' Stating that the EU wanted stability in the region and peace in the troubled State, he said the thrust was on human rights violations. 'We have discussed it with civil society and Government representatives. All have spoken about the need to improve in this respect.' Progress welcomed The biggest challenge was to ensure lasting peace. 'We are pleased to note the progress between India and Pakistan in Havana, and we welcome the resumption of the composite dialogue. Peaceful resolution of Kashmir will finally lead to peace and stability in the region.' There was great potential for economic development in the State. 'But the security situation has hampered development.' Mr. Numminen said India's role not only in South Asia but also at the global level was significant. On the EU's relations with Pakistan, he said, 'We have normal diplomatic relations with Pakistan, but it is difficult to compare it with India because here the volume is bigger.'

 

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