UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ several meetings with Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in the six months since he assumed charge is a sign of his involvement and commitment over the Kashmir issue, according to one of his spokespersons. Guterres, in his first press conference here this week, had acknowledged that through his meetings with Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif, he is engaged in bringing about dialogue between the South Asian neighbours to resolve the Kashmir issue. “I think what he was saying was that he has been engaged with these leaders. He’s met them five times in total since he’s become Secretary-General. I think that’s a sign of his commitment to the issue, his interest and his involvement in the issue,” the UN Chief’s associate spokesperson Eri Kaneko told reporters at the daily press briefing here yesterday.
Kaneko was asked details regarding the discussions between Guterres, Modi and Sharif and whether any commitment was given by the Indian and Pakistani leaders on resumption of dialogue over the Kashmir issue. “What the leaders agreed on is for them to say, them to announce. It’s not for us to say. But, the point that he (Guterres) was making and that we continue to make is that he is very engaged on the issue, and we’ll let you know if there is anything,” Kaneko said. When asked again if the Secretary-General got any commitment from the two leaders on engaging in dialogue, Kaneko said, “any commitment from the leaders is a question for them. It’s not something for us to announce.”
Responding to a question whether he is engaged in bringing about dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute, Guterres had said, “why do you think I met three times the Prime Minister of Pakistan and two times the Prime Minister of India. “For someone accused of doing nothing, it is quite a number of meetings,” he said, referring to criticism that he has been shying away and is reluctant to act to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Modi and Guterres had met in St Petersburg in June on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. During the meeting, Modi had stressed on multilateralism to address global challenges such as terrorism.
Sharif and the UN chief had met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos in January and again this month in Astana on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric, when asked at press briefings about the Secretary General’s response to the situation in Kashmir, has repeatedly said that Guterres is following the situation in the region closely.
The UN Chief has not made any direct intervention to resolve the issue, reiterating his call for India and Pakistan to find a peaceful solution through engagement and dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. Pakistan continuously raises the Kashmir issue at the UN seeking the world body’s intervention in the dispute with India. But New Delhi has always maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue with Islamabad.