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Macron to Discuss Kashmir With Modi

by AFP

Christophe Petit Tesson—AFP

French president and Indian P.M. to meet ahead of G7 summit, with senior diplomat saying regional tensions will be on agenda

French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss tensions in the divided region of Kashmir with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the two meet in Paris this week, a French official said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also weighed in on Kashmir on Tuesday, telling Modi in a phone call that the issue was one for India and Pakistan to resolve between themselves through dialogue.

Macron and Modi are set to sit down for a working dinner at the Chateau de Chantilly outside Paris on Thursday ahead of a G7 summit in France this weekend, to which Modi has been invited. “Of course it [Kashmir] will be on the agenda,” a French diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“We have a strategic partnership with India, that means having confidence in each other. We are not going to be aggressive towards India, but we expect the Indian prime minister to explain how he sees things.”

On Aug. 5, Modi’s Hindu nationalist government scrapped the autonomy of India-Occupied Kashmir, a divided Muslim-majority region that has enjoyed special status in the Indian constitution since the country’s independence from Britain in 1947. The move has enraged many Kashmiris and led to tensions with neighbor Pakistan, which also claims the region.

India resents any outside interference in Kashmir and its Western allies have historically avoided taking public positions on the dispute, despite allegations of human rights abuses there.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Johnson and Modi discussed the current situation in Kashmir and the British leader “made clear that the U.K. views the issue of Kashmir is one for India and Pakistan to resolve bilaterally.” Johnson “underlined the importance of resolving issues through dialogue,” she added. “They looked forward to meeting at the [G7] summit.”

The French diplomat recalled France’s similar position that Pakistan and India should resolve their differences between themselves and that both sides should avoid raising tensions.

Modi has been invited to this weekend’s Group of Seven meeting of major economic powers in Biarritz and is seen by France as a crucial ally in the fight against climate change. Macron is hoping the newly re-elected Indian leader will announce new pledges to curb Indian carbon emissions and will also sign up to a coalition of countries to tackle pollution from so-called HFC gases used in refrigerators and air-conditioning.

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