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    An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard during a curfew in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, June 9, 2017

    Indian Government Distances Itself From Former Norwegian PM's Kashmir Visit

    © AP Photo / Dar Yasin
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    Kjell Magne Bondevik’s visit has become politically controversial in India since former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah raised concerns over the visit. During the visit, Bondevik met kashmiri rebel leaders and also visited the part of Kashmir that is currently governed by Pakistan.

    The Indian government has clarified that it had nothing to do with former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik's recent visit to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Parliament on Friday that Kjell Magne Bondevik was on a private visit and he met with rebel leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Farooq. She also said that the former Norwegian Prime Minister visited that part of Kashmir that is currently under Pakistan's rule from November 24 to 27.

    READ MORE: India & Pakistan: Rapprochement Cancelled

    "According to available information, former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik was on a private visit to India at the invitation of the Art of Living Centre, Bengaluru. He reportedly visited Jammu and Kashmir on November 23 and met representatives of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jammu and Kashmir Youth Development Forum, All Party Hurriyat Conference. The Government of India was not involved in organising the visit and meetings", foreign minister Sushma Swaraj stated in written reply to a lawmaker's query in the Upper House of Parliament, Rajya Sabha on Friday. 

    "What are Norwegians up to in Kashmir? Would either Sushma Swaraj ji or Dovalji (national security advisor) care to put the visit of former Norwegian PM to both sides of the divided state in the correct context or do we have to rely on rumours and conjecture?," Omar Abdullah had tweeted earlier asking the Indian Foreign Minister and National Security Advisor to explain the reason for Bondevik's visit to the disputed areas.

    Kjell Magne Bondevik was the prime minister of Norway from 1997 to 2000 and again from 2001 to 2005. Presently he is the chief of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights. Bondevik was also involved in brokering the 2002 ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers, which later failed.

    READ MORE: Expert Explains How Kashmir Situation Might Be Resolved

    The situation in Kashmir has been simmering since India's independence and simultaneous partition of the Indian mainland into the two countries of India and Pakistan. The accession of Kashmir with India is challenged by Pakistan. Several rebel outfits have been operating from Kashmir and with terrorists operating in the region, allegedly supported by Pakistan.

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    Tags:
    separatist, peace, visit, security, UN, Sushma Swaraj, India, Kashmir, Norway, Pakistan
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