New Delhi: In a statement that will be construed as a huge boost for the Narendra Modi government, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday appealed both India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue via bilateral dialogue.
Guterres' comments thwart Pakistan's efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue, first at the UN Security Council recently, then again at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.
The UN chief met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Summit last month in Biarritz, France, and has also spoken to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
On September 9, Guterres also met Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN, after a request came from her for a meeting.
"His message to all of them has been the same, both publicly and privately, that he remains very concerned about any potential escalation between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir situation. He appeals to both sides to deal with the issue through dialogue," said UN chief's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
He further added, "You know, our position on mediation has, as a matter of principle, always remained the same."
India's stated policy has been that the Kashmir issue is an internal matter and there is no need for a third-party mediation.
The UN chief's appeal for dialogue between the two countries to solve the contentious Kashmir issue only emboldens India's stand, even as Pakistan is trying to raise the matter at the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.