New Delhi: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on the occasion of New Year, the French government in a statement Monday said that Paris was ‘monitoring the situation in Kashmir closely,’ also saying that the talks between the two leaders took place ‘in a spirit of trust and frankness that characterised’ ties between the two countries.

The statement comes just days after a delegation of 15 foreign envoys visited Kashmir, the second such exercise of its kind. Jammu and Kashmir, on August 5 last year, lost its special status and has been under severe communication lockdown since then. France, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has repeatedly stressed that ‘Jammu and Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan.

In fact, China is the only one among the five permanent UNSC members to have backed Pakistan on Kashmir.

In a statement, the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French President, said, “The French President and the Indian Prime Minister discussed the situation in the region of Kashmir, which France continues to follow closely.” The statement added that the two leaders also discussed bilateral ties in military and civil nuclear fields, as well as climate change.

“The two leaders discussed the ongoing situation in the Middle East and agreed to work together towards easing tensions by urging (all) parties to show restraint and responsibility,” the statement added referring to tensions between the US and Iran in the wake of the former killing top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike on January 2.

The statement further said that PM Modi and President Macron had agreed on enhancing operational cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.