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UPDATE – Guterres meets Pakistani FM at UN headquarters

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By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met Wednesday with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at UN headquarters.

Guterres and Qureshi exchanged views on regional developments, according to a statement by the secretary general's office.

"The Secretary-General reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability in South Asia through political dialogue, diplomatic solutions and respect for human rights," it said.

On the meeting, Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in statement that Qureshi briefed Guterres on the "grave" situation in the Indian-administered Kashmir, which had been under an ongoing security and communication lockdown for the last 150 days.

Welcoming the UNSC meeting on Kashmir, which reaffirmed its disputed status, Qureshi urged the international community, including the UN to "act decisively and take immediate steps to halt these dangerous policies, discourage India from provoking a conflict with Pakistan, and avert humanitarian catastrophe, and growing danger to South Asian peace and stability," the statement added.

Qureshi also briefed Guterres on Islamabad's ongoing efforts to defuse tensions in the region through proactive engagement with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Qureshi recalled that the Security Council discussed the Kashmir issue for the second time in five months on Wednesday, which he said is a “clear indication that the UN Security Council is cognizant” that the Kashmir issue is on its agenda.

He said India was portraying an impression that the Kashmir issue is an internal matter, adding that it is incorrect.

"This is a matter of concern, and the international community cannot be oblivious of the situation there.”

The top Pakistani diplomat also said concerns about human rights violations remain alive in the region, the situation is tense and there is a communication blackout.

"The approach of the Indian leadership is visible, and there has been no positive response from their side," said Qureshi.

Earlier in the day, Security Council members held talks on the disputed region of Kashmir amid ongoing concerns over the flashpoint between nuclear armed rivals India and Pakistan.

According to reports, France, an ally of India, had opposed China’s request to hold the closed-door talks on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the world body’s headquarters in New York.

Last month, the United States, Britain, France and Russia blocked a previous attempt by China to discuss the issue at another closed-door meeting. The council last discussed Kashmir in August 2019.

China has long voiced concern over the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir and said it supports Pakistan in its fight for Kashmiris.

Separately, Qureshi also met Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the president of UN General Assembly, and Dang Dinh Quy, the UN Security Council head, and discussed issues with regional and international importance, including Jammu and Kashmir, a separate statement said.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in part and claim the Himalayan region in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan that have fought two wars over the territory.

*Betul Yuruk in New York, Aamir Latif in Karachi, Pakistan contributed to the story

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