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.”
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.
— Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg (@nrkamsvaag) January 7, 2019
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.”
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.