French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said India and Pakistan must resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally, without any interferences from third parties, PTI reported. Macron said he had told this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting near Paris earlier in the day, and would tell the same to Imran Khan of Pakistan.

Macron was referring to India’s decision earlier this month to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India for Kashmir since Independence, has not taken this move well.

Macron was speaking after a 90-minute-long meeting with Modi at Chateau de Chantilly near Paris. The one-on-one interaction was followed by delegation-level talks. India and France signed four memorandums of understanding after the meetings.

“I told him [Modi] that India and Pakistan will have to find a solution to the issue and no third party should interfere or incite violence in the region,” Macron said. He added that Modi had told him about India’s recent decisions on Jammu and Kashmir and that it was in their sovereignty.

“I will also speak to Pakistan Prime Minister [Imran Khan] after a few days and tell him that the talks should be held bilaterally,” the French president said, adding that peace must be maintained and that the rights of the people should be safeguarded.

Last month, Khan had met United States President Donald Trump and urged him to mediate in the Kashmir dispute. Trump had claimed that even Modi had asked him the same and he would be willing to do so. However, India refuted Trump’s claim and said the matter was bilateral, as had been its policy for long.

In his latest statement on the matter on Tuesday, Trump said the crisis in Kashmir “is a big deal” and it was an “explosive situation”. The previous day, he had spoken to both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Imran Khan in an effort to bring down the tensions in the region.

Meanwhile, during the joint statement, Modi said India and France will expand their cooperation in many sectors, including security, the fight against terrorism, climate change, and technology-inclusive development. “Both our countries are constantly facing terrorism,” Modi said. “We thank President Macron for the valuable support that France has received in combating cross-border terrorism. We intend to broaden cooperation on security and counter-terrorism.”

India-Pakistan tensions

New Delhi’s actions on Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 were swiftly condemned by Islamabad, which downgraded diplomatic ties and ended bilateral trade. Since then, Pakistan has raised the Kashmir matter at the United Nations Security Council, and has talked of raising it at the UN Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice as well. On Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had raised concerns about an imminent military escalation between the two nuclear powers.

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday urged India to end the communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir and restrictions imposed on peaceful protests. Jammu and Kashmir has been under lockdown since August 5. Several political leaders have been detained or arrested, and politicians from New Delhi have also not been allowed to visit the region to review the situation.

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