Norway PM Erna Solberg has said the Nordic nation is open to the idea of playing mediator on Kashmir if India and Pakistan so wish.
New Delhi: The visiting Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, urged India and Pakistan Monday to resume the stalled composite dialogue and decrease the tensions between them.
While Norway has not offered to play the role of mediator, it is certainly open to the idea if India and Pakistan approach it, she said.
The PM added that Norway had played the role of mediator in Sri Lanka during its civil war, but said that its efforts did not yield fruitful results, a reference perhaps to the thousands of civilian deaths in the north of the country.
Former Norway PM’s J&K visit
Solberg’s remarks need to be assessed in the context of former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s visit to Jammu & Kashmir late last year.
On 23 November 2018, Bondevik visited Srinagar and met Hurriyat leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
It is believed that Bondevik, who heads a think-tank on peace and conflict resolution in Norway, visited both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) during his visit.
After the meeting, a Hurriyat statement said the Norwegian delegation had assured the separatist leaders that “they would use their good offices to ensure that a sustained and result-oriented dialogue between India and Pakistan” for an “amicable solution” on Kashmir.
The Centre had, at the time, denied any involvement in Bondevik’s visit and reiterated its longstanding position that India and Pakistan would address all outstanding issues through bilateral discussions.
Norway’s peacekeeping role
While it is not clear whether India has sought Norway’s help, the Nordic state is known for mediating peace and opposing military intervention between sparring forces.
In 2016, Norway brokered peace between the Colombian government and the rebel group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which was founded in 1964. These peace talks, with Norway as the go-between, had begun in November 2012.
It had also played an instrumental role in the resolution of Sri Lanka’s conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a now-defunct militant organisation seeking a separate state for the country’s marginalised Tamil minority. However, the measures taken by Norway at the time were not supported by India and the U.S.
India has never allowed direct third-party intervention in the Kashmir dispute, so the chances of New Delhi asking Oslo to play an intermediary role now, in an election year, appear dim.