NEW DELHI: Former Norway prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik's visit to Jammu and Kashmir a few weeks back had created an uproar in the political circles. Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah had also questioned the motive of the visit. The question was again raked up in Parliament on Friday.
Quashing rumours over the visit, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj told Rajya Sabha that the former PM was on a private visit to India. "Former Norway PM Kjell Magne Bondevik was on private visit to India at the invitation of Art of Living. He met several people including All Party Hurriyat Conference. The government was not involved in organising the visit," she said.
She clarified that India will not involve any third party to resolve issues with Pakistan. "There's no change in the government's consistent and principled position under Simla Agreement and as reiterated in Lahore Declaration. India and Pakistan are committed to address issues bilaterally. There's no scope for third party role," she added.
Senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was among those who met the former Norway PM, had called the meeting a fruitful one. "As Norway is known to play a constructive role in conflict resolution across the globe, urged Bondevik to help in ending the daily killings and urgent resolution of the festering Kashmir dispute," Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had tweeted.
Geelani and Mirwaiz had told the former prime minister that the Norwegian government should make serious efforts to resolve the Kashmir dispute to mitigate the sufferings of the people and ensure lasting peace in South Asia. They said the leaders explained to the visiting dignitary the prevailing situation in Kashmir and termed it "very sensitive and fragile".
The former Norwegian prime minister-led delegation assured the separatist leaders that "they would use their good offices to ensure that a sustained and result-oriented dialogue between India and Pakistan begins so that an amicable solution to the Kashmir issue is found," the statement claimed.