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UN says Kashmir comments not official policy

UN says Kashmir comments not official policy

Author: Irwin Arieff
Publication: Reuters
Date: November 1, 2001

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 1 () - The United Nations said on Thursday that a peacekeeping official did not reflect U.N. policy in comments accusing New Delhi and Islamabad of playing "political games" over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Statements by Major General Hermann Loidolt, head of the U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), "did not reflect the views of the Secretary- General (Kofi Annan)," U.N. spokesman Manoel Almeida e Silva said.

Loidolt "has been reminded of the limits of his responsibilities," the spokesman said, explaining that policy statements by staff had to be cleared in advance with U.N. headquarters.

Loidolt, named to the UNMOGIP post earlier this year, made the comments on Monday.

"All of us are aware of the situation in Kashmir and the games both parties are playing with this tormented country," Loidolt said. "There's no easy solution...and war is absolutely no solution for the issue of Kashmir."

He also said Kashmir's fate would be an "issue for the U.S. to solve."

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao called Loidolt's comments "totally unwarranted and uncalled for" and said New Delhi would take up the matter with the United Nations.

The only way to resolve the issue of Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, was through bilateral talks with Pakistan, Rao said, adding that India would accept no third-party intervention.

New Delhi claims the whole of Kashmir and has been battling for nearly 12 years to put down a bloody revolt against its rule in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Indian officials say more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict but separatists put the toll closer to 80,000.

Pakistan, which denies direct involvement in the Kashmir rebellion, says it wants a U.N.-mandated plebiscite to determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

India and Pakistan both support the U.S.-led fight against Islamic militants in neighboring Afghanistan but tensions have been mounting between them over guerrilla violence in Kashmir.

UNMOGIP, one of the oldest U.N. missions, monitors a cease-fire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan that was set up in 1949.

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