New Delhi: A day after the European Union (EU), while recognising India’s security concerns in Jammu and Kashmir, called for remaining restrictions to be lifted swiftly, French ambassador to India, Emmnauel Lenain on Saturday made similar remarks, saying that remaining restrictions should be removed ‘as soon as possible.’ Also Read - 'Don't Worry, One Democracy Will Settle it': Here's Jaishankar's Prompt Reply to US Senator on Kashmir
The French envoy’s remarks came in the wake of a group of 25 envoys, of which he was a part, visiting Jammu and Kashmir earlier this week to assess the ground situation there in the wake of New Delhi’s move to revoke the region’s special status, on August 5 last year. Also Read - Don't Interfere: India Reacts Strongly As Turkey Compares Kashmir's Plight to Turkey's Situation in World War 1
Speaking to media, he called the visit an ‘important trip,’ remarking that this was because as an Ambassador, he needed to assess the ground situation with his own eyes to make as objective an assessment as possible. “It was useful to be able to speak directly to the local authorities, some members of the civil society, local media and business community,” he said. Also Read - 'Remaining Restriction Should be Lifted Swiftly,' Says EU After Envoys Visit to Kashmir
“Significant efforts are being made by the authorities to normalise the situation and move on swiftly towards economic development. This implies removing as soon as possible the remaining restrictions, even though the security challenges were made very clear,” Leanin added.
The group of envoys that visited the Valley on Wednesday was the second group of foreign envoys to be taken there; a first group was taken there last month. Overall, this was the third foreign delegation to be taken to Kashmir after a delegation of right-wing EU Parliament MPs went there in October.
The Indian opposition, however, has thus far not been allowed to visit the newly-created union territory.
France has repeatedly backed India on Jammu and Kashmir, calling it a ‘bilateral dispute’ that should be resolved only by and between India and Pakistan.