Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Sunday (February 16) reacted strongly to UN chief Antonio Guterres's comments on Jammu and Kashmir, stressing region is and will remain an integral part of India and the only issue which must be addressed is of vacation of territories "illegally and forcibly" occupied by Pakistan.
Kumar reiterated that the Kashmir issue is between India and Pakistan and there was no role or scope for any third-party mediation on this matter. The MEA spokesperson made the statements after UN Secretary-General Guterres, who is on a visit to Pakistan, on Sunday expressed concern over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Guterres had also offered to mediate between New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve the Kashmir issue.
"India's position has not changed. Jammu and Kashmir has been, is, and will continue to be an integral part of India. The issue that needs to be addressed is that of vacation of the territories illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan," the external affairs ministry spokesperson said.
"Further issues, if any, would be discussed bilaterally. There is no role or scope for third-party mediation," he added.
Kumar noted that Guterres should put pressure on Pakistan to take credible, sustained and irreversible action in order to end cross-border terrorism. For his part, Guterres remarked that India and Pakistan must take steps to de-escalate "militarily and verbally" and exercise "maximum restraint".
Talking to media after his meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the UN chief said he was "deeply concerned" over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the rising tensions along the Line of Control.
"Diplomacy and dialogue remain the only tools that guarantee peace and stability with solutions in accordance with the Charter of United Nations and resolutions of the Security Council," Guterres told reporters.
Guterres said he had "repeatedly stressed on the importance of exercising maximum restraint". "I offered my good offices from the beginning. I am ready to help if both countries agree for mediation," he said.