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August 13, 2013

Ban Ki-moon ready to mediate on Kashmir issue

August 13, 2013

UNITED NATIONS: Expressing sorrow over the recent outbreak of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has underscored the need for Pakistan and India to resolve the “longstanding” issue, saying his good offices are available if both sides agree to his mediation.
“While I am saddened by the loss of lives in the course of all this conflict, I am relatively, reasonably encouraged by the recent move by both the sides to engage in dialogue, to resolve their source of conflict through dialogue — that I will strongly welcome and support,” the secretary-general said in an interview with the UN-based correspondents of APP before his departure for Islamabad for an official two-day visit, beginning on Tuesday.
“My offer of good office remains available. If both sides think this is useful and both sides agree, then I’ll be ready to offer my good offices,” Ban said in response to a question whether he could help leaders of India and Pakistan resolve the decades-old dispute, which is on the agenda of the UN Security Council.
But experts point out that India has consistently rebuffed the offers of mediation, whether by the United Nations or any other third party, arguing that solutions must arise bilaterally. And even in a bilateral format, very little progress has been made because of India’s refusal to come to grips with the core issue of Kashmir.
In the course of the wide-ranging interview at his refurbished 38th floor office overlooking the East River, Ban also urged the operating countries or any group operating armed drones to strictly adhere to the relevant provisions of international laws regulating UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). He was responding to a question about the deep concern and anger in Pakistan over the continuing US drone strikes in Pakistani territory that have killed and injured many civilians. “The UN really and strongly urges that all these UAVs should be strictly regulated and controlled under

international laws, including international humanitarian laws,” he added.
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said he looked forward to discussing with the newly-elected Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, a number of important issues, including Afghanistan from where the United States-led forces are set to withdraw in 2014, posing a change because of the resulting security vacuum. “We really hope to have closer and stronger cooperation, and the role of Pakistan in promoting peace and stability in neighbouring country —Afghanistan,” he said. “There should be a strong regional cooperation. This is why I am visiting Pakistan. It is one of our priority agendas, which I will be discussing with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Zardari.”
He said he would also exchange ideas on how Pakistan could accelerate the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals — in education, poverty eradication and gender equality.Ban, 69, a soft-spoken diplomat, described as “good message” the first-ever transfer of power in Pakistan from a civilian government to another democratically elected government.
About the ongoing deadly conflict in Syria, the secretary-general said he was working hard to convene the second Geneva peace conference in the second week of September, citing his recent meetings with the representatives of two of its sponsors — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. “There is no military solution, only a political solution can save millions of millions of people from this tragic conflict,” Ban said.
When asked if he was only visiting Pakistan or some other countries also in the upcoming trip, Ban said that the trip was part of several countries, but would start from Pakistan.
On a question about the UN help to alleviate the sufferings of the flood affected people in Pakistan he said that he visited Pakistan in 2010 and flew in a helicopter with President Asif Ali Zardari and the interior minister and other ministers and he was so struck by the impact of the scale of damage and the scope of damage the country suffered. “At that time, I reported to the General Assembly immediately, to the special session that it was like slow-motion Tsunami... I am very sorry for all the damages and loss in the recent flood. My message is that the Pakistani government should invest more in disaster risk reduction. This is part of prevention, a prevention, which I take as one of the five important action agendas, prevention from natural disasters and prevention from man-made crisis,” he said.
About security situation in Afghanistan after withdrawal of Isaf forces in 2012 he said that it would pose a challenge not only to Afghanistan and the people in the governments, the United Nations, and regional countries. He said that Afghan National Security Forces should be responsible for their security. He said that as there was a concern over the capacity of Afghan security force, he had been urging the ISAF member states, including the United States, and key European countries to provide necessary equipment and resources to help them strengthen their capacity. That is important. In that regard, I welcome some of the countries, including the United States that would provide residual forces to help build capacity of the Afghan forces.
When asked about terrorism that was rampant in Pakistan UN Secretary General said, “Terrorism is something which the whole of the international community must work together. Pakistan alone, or any other country alone, may not be able to fight against terrorism alone; that is why the UN General Assembly conducted a global counter-terrorism strategy in December 2006, by consensus. We have this Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Forces (CTIF). We have established UN Counter-Terrorism Centres. As you might have read the statement by the Saudi King presenting $100 million — that’s a very generous support. This is a global effort.
He said, “I am very much saddened by all that has happened in Pakistan by terrorist attacks. I strongly condemn these heinous terrorist attacks against civilians. This must stop. This must be stopped. I am going to emphasise and work together with world leaders to strengthen the UN’s and international community’s capacity in fighting terrorism.
About reports that al-Qaeda and other extremists have joined the Syrian conflict Ban said that they must know that there was no military solution, only a political solution could save millions of millions of people from this tragic conflict. “I had a very good talk on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We all discussed... last week I met John Kerry, the US Secretary of State— we are working very hard to convene the Geneva-II Peace Conference, around the second week of September.

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