17:12 GMT +323 January 2020
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    UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - China has requested a closed meeting of the UN Security Council to address the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

    "The permanent mission of China to the UN had requested a closed meeting citing the letter sent by Pakistan," the source said.

    Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, discussed over the phone the situation in Southern Asia amid Pakistani-Indian tensions.

    "The Russian side has stressed the need to de-escalate tensions, noting that Pakistan and India have to settle their differences bilaterally, using political and diplomatic tools. Russia's representatives in the United Nations are committed to this consistent stand as well," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, following the phone conversation.

    On Tuesday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a letter addressed to Security Council President Joanna Wronecka, requested to convene consultations on Jammu and Kashmir, citing a number of human rights violations allegedly committed by Indian authorities before and after the decision to revoke the special status of the state and threats to international peace and security that this action might pose.

    Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing was very concerned regarding the situation surrounding Kashmir, stressing that the issue should be resolved by peaceful means and in accordance with the UN Charter, the Security Council’s resolutions and bilateral agreements.

    In a separate statement, Yi said that India had changed the status quo in the Kashmir region by amending the Indian Constitution.

    "By introducing changes to the constitution, the Indian side has changed the status quo in Kashmir, which has resulted in tensions in the region. The Chinese side is against any unilateral actions that lead to the aggravation of the situation," Wang said at a meeting with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

    On 5 August, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind signed a decree removing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which was granted to the state by Article 370 of the Indian constitution. Under the new initiative by the federal government, the region will be divided into two union territories.

    Pakistan has condemned India's move, with Prime Minister Imran Khan comparing it to acts carried out as part of 20th-century "Nazi ideology."

    India and Pakistan have contended the Kashmir region, the southern part of which lies in India's Jammu and Kashmir state, since the end of British rule in 1947.

    Despite a ceasefire in 2003 following several armed conflicts, instability has continued, leading to the emergence of various extremist groups. Tensions spiked earlier this year when the Indian military conducted airstrikes in the region in response to an attack orchestrated by a terrorist group based on the Pakistani side of Kashmir.


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