Human rights in India are "much more respected than in many other countries of the world," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said in an exclusive interview to NDTV. Mr Guterres, who visited India last month, also said UN's relationship with India is not centred only on the question of Kashmir.
The comments come months after a UN report on Kashmir criticized both India and Pakistan for human rights violations.
"India is a country in which there are human rights violations but it is a vibrant democracy in which human rights are much more respected than in many other countries of the world. So I think we need to look at India not focused on one single aspect but on the whole. And on the whole I'm very proud to have very solid cooperation with India. I want that cooperation to become bigger and bigger. I believe the increase of the influence Indian's voice in the world is very important for us," the UN chief said, speaking in New York.
India has called the UN Human Rights Council report "fallacious, tendentious and motivated". The report also laid out recommendations for both countries and very controversially asked India to "respect the self-determination of the people of Kashmir".
Asked whether he had discussed Kashmir with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit, Mr Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, said: "We discussed everything in a very open way but I have to say our relations with India are not centered only on the question of Kashmir."
He continued: "It is important to underline that India today is a fundamental pillar of a multi polar world and is essential partner of UN. India is a large contributor to peacekeeping. India is today a fundamental leader in the fight against climate change. India is totally committed to Sustainable Development Goals".
A few weeks ago, India won a seat at the UN Human Rights Council with the highest number of votes.