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Can mediate if asked, but India, Pakistan must find own solution to Kashmir: Norway PM

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Ahead of her meeting with PM Narendra Modi, Erna Solberg says ‘nobody from outside can create peace or make changes, it has to come from inside’.

New Delhi: A day before her meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg cooked up a storm Monday, when she said her country was willing to mediate between the sparring neighbours. However, she urged them to come to the negotiating table and look for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, saying peace cannot be forced from outside.

“It’s true Norway has done a lot of work on mediation for peaceful settlement… But one of the most important parts of that is that nobody from outside can create peace or make changes. It has to come from inside. If there is a movement in India and Pakistan for greater talks together, of course countries can help,” Solberg told the media at the inauguration of the new Norwegian embassy in New Delhi.

“It has to be partner-driven. It has to be those who are part of the conflict. And I think both India and Pakistan are big enough countries to ensure that they can also decrease tension between them without help from outside.

“Our government policy is very clear. If we are going to help somewhere, they have to ask for it.”

To put the matter of mediation to rest, Norwegian ambassador to India Nils Ragnar Kamsvag clarified the PM’s statement in a tweet: “PM @erna_solberg has not offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, as has been erroneously reported. Norway has neither been asked nor offered to mediate.”

Also read: Mindset has changed, says Pakistan PM Imran Khan as he offers peace talks over Kashmir

No military solution

Solberg, who will meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday afternoon, stated that a “long-lasting peaceful solution is needed” on Kashmir.

“I personally do not believe that a military solution will solve problems. I believe in peaceful solutions… We can have victory through military activity, but you will still have problems. And it is not Kashmir, but all places in the world,” she said.

“I hope Pakistan and India will find a time for when they will start to talk. I do believe in all countries you have higher military expenditure because you are not so friendly. More money should be spent on education and health.”

Predecessor’s visit

Solberg’s remarks on tensions between India and Pakistan come at a time when questions are being raised as to why former Norwegian PM Kjell Magne Bondevik was allowed to visit Kashmir last year. Bondevik met leaders of the Hurriyat Conference and also flew to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The visit was hailed by Kashmiris based in Europe. Sardar Ali Shahnawaz Khan, executive director of the Kashmiri Scandinavian Council, stated that the visit was significant in the wake of growing tensions in the Valley.

However, in his interview to ANI recently, Prime Minister Modi had once again stated that India will not talk to Pakistan unless it stops cross-border terrorism. On his part, Pakistani PM Imran Khan has said the country is open to talking to India on all outstanding issues.

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  1. 1. Anyone who wishes to extend his/her good offices to solve the Kashmir issue cannot overlook certain ground realities. These ground realities are: (a) Ever since (in 1948) Pakistani army made a failed attempt to snatch Kashmir from India, its politicians, its army and a section of people have an obsessive dream that Kashmir will be of Pakistan. During last seventy years Pakistan has provided support to terror groups and some individuals (so-called separatists) with a single objective: to wrest Kashmir from India but it has simply failed in fulfilment of that objective. (b) Indian govt. will never discuss Kashmir issue with either the separatists or with Pakistan. (c) Despite Pakistan’s repeated denial, the entire democratic world knows that terror groups like LeT, JeM, and Pakistani Taliban operate freely from Pakistan and good many of them do so because Pakistan’s intelligence wing, ISI, provides immunity to such terror groups. These terror outfits are freely used to create disturbances in Kashmir and in other parts of our country. 2. Therefore, though we should welcome efforts of foreigners, we must be very clear about our objective: that the Kashmir problem will be solved within framework of our Constitution and with acceptance of an undeniable fact that Kashmir is and will remain part of Indian Union.

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