France keeps a close watch on Kashmir: Macron to Modi

Reuters file photo

Six months after the BJP-led central government stripped Kashmir of its special status, France has made it clear that it continued to keep a “close watch” on the strife-torn state, where normal life has been thrown out of gear by the Narendra Modi government's decision to revoke Article 370 that gives special status to the state.

“The French President and the Indian Prime Minister discussed the situation in the region of Kashmir, which France continues to follow closely,” the French Embassy here said in a statement on Monday. The discussion between the two leaders took place on Friday (Jan 10).

Incidentally, a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on the same day after the Modi-Emmanual Macron talk, did not mention Kashmir at all. The French side now reveals that the controversial issue did figure in the dialogue between the two leaders.

Previously Paris not only evinced much interest on Kashmir describing it as India's internal matter, but also helped the Modi government come out of the Rafale (aircraft) controversy. In that backdrop, France's admission of keeping a tab on Kashmir signals a slight change in its position even though the official statements from either side didn't disclose much.

The French statement comes days after a group of diplomats from 15 countries toured Jammu and Kashmir to have an on the ground assessment of the situation by talking to political leaders, civil society members and media. This was the first J&K visit for the diplomats organised by the Centre after revocation of Article 370.

The only European country in the group was Norway as no European Union members were represented. The Ministry of External Affairs officials hinted at one or two more such trips in which more nations can be accommodated.

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