CHANTILLY, FRANCE: French President Emmanuel Macron had a ‘frank’ exchange with Narendra Modi about tensions in occupied Kashmir, telling him Paris would remain attentive to the rights of people living both sides of the ceasefire line.
As tensions soared in the flashpoint region, the French president on Friday said he would also have a similar exchange with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the coming days.
His remarks came after talks with the Indian premier at the chateau in Chantilly, just north of Paris.
Macron said he told Modi it was the responsibility of both India and Pakistan “to avoid any deterioration on the ground which could lead to an escalation”, noting the importance of resolving their differences bilaterally.
On August 5, Modi’s Hindu nationalist government scrapped the autonomy of occupied Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region that has enjoyed special status in the Indian constitution since the country’s independence from Britain in 1947.
The move enraged Kashmiris and has sparked tensions with Pakistan, raising growing international concern over a flare-up in violence between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Macron further said that France would “remain attentive to ensure the interests and rights of the civilian populations are properly taken into account “.
French officials had earlier said they would push Modi to explain how he saw things playing out in the region in the coming days and weeks.
Since August 5, Indian authorities have imposed a communications blackout and heavy restrictions on movement in IoK, arresting at least 4,000 people and raising growing alarm about rights violations.
Earlier on Thursday, UN rights experts said they were concerned about “massive numbers” of troops brought in to enforce restrictions and about the apparent rise in arrests of political figures, journalists, human rights activists and protesters.
The meeting comes just two days before Macron hosts world leaders at this weekend’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit in the French resort of Biarritz, among them Donald Trump, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s new prime minister Boris Johnson.
Modi will also attend the three-day summit, which begins on Saturday.