Need a peaceful not military solution for Kashmir: Erna Solberg Norway Prime Minister

Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Monday batted for a peaceful approach to resolving the Kashmir conflict and reducing tensions between India and Pakistan.

Asked if a military solution is possible in Kashmir, Solberg said, “I personally don’t believe that military solutions solve problems. I believe in peaceful solutions. I believe in participation of women, youth and peace negotiators.

“You can have victory through military solutions but you will have underlying activities. It is not just in Kashmir, but in all places in the world. We see it in Syria.”
She added that any military solution will not be a “long lasting and peaceful” one.

Solberg, who is in India on an official visit, will deliver the inaugural address in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the fourth edition of the major foreign policy event ‘Raisina Dialogue’ organised by the Ministry of External Affairs starting Tuesday.

The Norwegian leader remarked that India and Pakistan will have to decide when they want to start talks and hoped that military expenditure could be reduced to increase spending on education and health.

She stated that Norway could mediate only if India and Pakistan want so.

“If there is a movement in India and Pakistan for greater talks together, of course we and other countries can say that we can help mediating if there is a possibility. But it has to be partner-driven. It has to be those who are party to the conflict.

“Both Pakistan and India are big enough countries to make sure they can also decrease tensions without any help from outside.”

Responding to questions about former Norwegian PM Bondevik’s recent surprise visit to the Valley, Solberg clarified that he went there as “a private citizen”.

Bondevik, who heads the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights, in a quiet visit to the Valley on November 23, met with Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the Joint Resistance Leadership that led to speculation of intervention.

On his way back, Bondevik also met with Sardar Masood Khan, President of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.

“He (Bondevik) has an institute for peace and security which is a private institute in Norway. And it was not part of any governmental plan or of Norwegian government to start any negotiations. He was invited. Our government policy is very clear. If we are drawn to help somewhere, they have to ask for it,” clarified Solberg.

Earlier responding to a question in Rajya Sabha on the issue on December 28, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in a written reply had ruled out any third-party role or mediation in Kashmir.

Solberg also supported India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.