Eric Garcetti, the US Ambassador to India, has reiterated that the longstanding Kashmir issue must be resolved through direct dialogue between India and Pakistan, emphasizing the pivotal role both nations play in finding a solution. His statement comes in the wake of a recent visit by Donald Blome, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, to the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Blome’s multi-day visit to Gilgit-Baltistan raised eyebrows, as he toured various parts of the strategically significant region and engaged with local officials, including a minister and the deputy speaker of the local assembly. India had previously expressed its objections when Blome visited PoK last year and referred to it as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir.”
When questioned about Blome’s recent visit, Ambassador Garcetti refrained from directly commenting on the actions of the US Ambassador to Pakistan. Instead, he asserted, “We’ll stay engaged, but this is an issue, we very religiously note, that has to be something that is resolved between India and Pakistan, not by any third party, including the US.”
Indian officials have not provided an immediate response to Blome’s visit to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Donald Blome’s recent visits, including his exploration of the strategic port of Gwadar in southwestern Pakistan, were noteworthy. Gwadar port is a crucial component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which also involves several projects in Gilgit-Baltistan. These visits led to allegations by a local opposition leader, Kazim Mesum, who claimed that the US Ambassador’s activities were part of the US’s “containment policy” for CPEC.
In response to these allegations, a spokesman for the US embassy in Islamabad clarified that the purpose of Ambassador Blome’s visit was to assess opportunities for enhancing climate resilience in Gilgit-Baltistan, given the region’s vulnerability to climate change impacts. The spokesman emphasized that Blome’s visits were closely coordinated with the Pakistan government.
During the press conference, Ambassador Garcetti was also asked about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent allegation regarding a “potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. In response, Garcetti refrained from commenting on specifics, stating, “It’s not my place to speak on another country. As a matter of business, not just this, we don’t talk about intelligence matters or criminal justice matters.”
Regarding the US President Joe Biden’s invitation to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26, Ambassador Garcetti noted that the invitation had been extended, but President Biden’s schedule for that time was not yet finalized.
Sources By Agencies