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World

Web Desk
January 9, 2020

EU diplomats turn down India's invitation to visit occupied Kashmir

World

Web Desk
Thu, Jan 09, 2020
Diplomats from nearly 17 countries will travel to occupied valley today. Photo: File 

Diplomats from European Union on Thursday refused India’s invitation to visit occupied Kashmir saying they wanted to meet people of the valley “unescorted”, reported The Hindu.

Diplomats from nearly 17 countries were extended an invitation by New Delhi for a two-day visit to occupied Kashmir beginning Thursday, which entered its 158th day of lockdown today.

According to NDTV, countries which will take part in the visit include the US, Vietnam, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Guyana, Nigeria, Niger, Argentina Philippines, Norway, Morocco, Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh and Peru. "The envoys would first be taken to Srinagar and then later to Jammu to meet the valley’s Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu and other officials", the TV channel reported.

European sources told NDTV that the envoys from EU said they did not want a "guided tour" unlike the European Parliament members (MEPs) who visited the region under heavy escort in October last year.

The Indian media further said New Delhi has decided to organise a separate visit for EU envoys at a later date.

When asked, the government sources denied any suggestion that EU envoys had pulled out due to restrictions in the programme, saying the authorities were unable to accommodate all 28 countries on this trip.

The publication further said that diplomats from Australia, Afghanistan and Gulf countries declined the invitation due to other commitments.

Last year in October, 27 European MPs, mainly from far-right parties visited occupied Kashmir to get a first-hand account of the situation in the valley following New Delhi’s move to revoke the special status of the valley.

On August 24 last year european Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and other Indian opposition leaders were asked to return back from Srinagar airport after they landed in the occupied valley to examine the ground situation.

The Indian opposition leaders were expected to visit some other parts of the valley, however, authorities in occupied Kashmir did not allow any Indian leader to enter the valley.