PM Modi, Emmanuel Macron Speak, France "Closely Following Kashmir Situation"

On Thursday foreign envoys from 15 countries, including the US, were invited to a two-day visit of Jammu and Kashmir under the supervision of the Indian government

PM Modi, Emmanuel Macron Speak, France 'Closely Following Kashmir Situation'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to France President Emmanuel Macron on Friday (File)

New Delhi:

France is monitoring the Kashmir situation "closely", the Elysee Palace said today after Friday's phone call between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron. In a statement released after the conversation the French government said talks between the two leaders took place "in the spirit of trust and frankness that characterised" relations between the two nations.

The statement also said that PM Modi and President Macron discussed the Middle East situation and "agreed to work together towards easing tensions by urging (all) parties to show restraint and responsibility".

"In the spirit of trust and frankness that characterises their relations, the French President and the Indian Prime Minister discussed the situation in the region of Kashmir, which France continues to follow closely," the French government's statement read.

The leaders also discussed bilateral ties in military and civil nuclear fields, as well as climate change.

"The two leaders expressed their interest in pursuing the strengthening of our partnership in the military and civil nuclear fields, as well as enhancing our operational cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region," the statement said.

"The President and the Prime Minister agreed on the importance of remaining in very close contact in view of the upcoming decisive events in 2020 with regard to climate change and biodiversity," the French government said.

On Thursday foreign envoys from 15 countries, including the United States, were invited to a two-day visit of Jammu and Kashmir under the supervision of the Indian government.

The visiting envoys came from smaller nations such as Togo, Niger and Guyana. European countries, including France, the European Union and India's allies in the Middle East stayed away.

The United States described the visit of the envoys as an "important step" but said it remained "concerned" by the detention of politicians and the Internet blackout.

This was the second visit to Kashmir by a foreign delegation; in October 23 European Union MPs - most from right-wing parties - were given a tightly managed tour of Srinagar but that was in their personal capacity.

The opposition has criticised the government for allowing foreign delegations to visit but stopping India's own parliamentarians from doing so.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir has made headlines since August 5, when the centre withdrew special status under Article 370 and split it into two Union Territories.

Since then Kashmir has been under severe restrictions - including one of the world's longest internet shutdowns and the detention of key leaders, like three former Chief Ministers, for over five months now.

Last week the Supreme Court said indefinite shutdown of internet in Kashmir was illegal. In a landmark verdict the top court said suspensions could only be imposed for "temporary duration" and ordered authorities to review all such curbs in Kashmir immediately.

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