German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the current situation in Kashmir is “not sustainable” and needs to change, PTI reported. She made the remark to German reporters ahead of her “restricted meeting” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after co-chairing the fifth Inter-Governmental Consultations with him.

“The situation for the people there is currently not sustainable and must improve,” Merkel said, according to NDTV. She added that she would raise the matter with Modi during her meeting with the prime minister. Merkel said that though she was aware of India’s position on Kashmir, she wanted to hear from Modi about his plans to restore calm in the region.

New Delhi maintains that the whole of Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, is an integral part of India, and its internal matter. On August 5, the government scrapped the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and imposed prohibitory orders. It also bifurcated the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The restrictions have gradually been eased in Kashmir, with mobile phone connectivity restored and schools and colleges reopened. However, an internet ban continues, and senior leaders of local political parties remain in detention. There have also been reports of clashes between security personnel and protestors.

Merkel’s remark on Kashmir came on the same day that three journalists covering the protests alleged that they were beaten up and abused by police personnel in Srinagar.

Merkel met Modi earlier in the day at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence in New Delhi, ANI reported. “Important MoUs [Memorandums of Understanding] were signed during Chancellor Merkel’s visit,” Modi said in a tweet. “These will further invigorate the India-Germany friendship.”

“India and Germany can work together in areas like artificial intelligence, skills, education and more,” the prime minister added. “We welcome German cooperation in our plans for smart cities, e-moblility and harnessing water resources. [Two] defence corridors also bring many opportunities for German companies.”

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