France President presses India to opt for dialogue on IoK issue

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures next to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a joint statement at the Chateau of Chantilly, near Paris, France. – File Photo

French President Emmanuel Macron has met with India’s prime minister, discussing climate and other concerns ahead of the G-7 summit but also pressing for dialogue with Pakistan over the crisis in occupied Kashmir.

The meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was part of a marathon day of diplomacy for Macron, who is touching base with key countries before the weekend summit in Biarritz. Modi will be a special guest there.

Macron met earlier with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Greece’s prime minister.

Macron said he stressed the need for India and Pakistan to resolve differences bilaterally and avoid an escalation.

On Aug 5, Modi downgraded the autonomy of Muslim-majority occupied Kashmir and sent thousands of troops to the region. Modi made no mention of Kashmir in his statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had expressed hope that France would “play its due role to ensure peace and stability in the region”.

Qureshi said this after a telephonic conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The foreign minister had apprised his French counterpart of the “grave risk to peace and security in the region” stemming from the steps taken by India.

He had urged France “to impress upon India to lift the curfew and ameliorate the hardships and sufferings of the people” in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

The French foreign minister had said that France “was extremely concerned at the situation and urged both sides to engage in a bilateral dialogue”. The French minister had underscored the need “to ensure that there was no further escalation”. He impressed upon the fact that France would have the same message for India.

Later in the same day, a French official had said that French President Macron would discuss tensions in the divided region of Kashmir with Indian Prime Minister Modi when the two meet in Paris.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also weighed in on Kashmir on Tuesday telling Modi in a phone call that the issue was one for India and Pakistan to resolve between themselves through dialogue.