Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Monday suggested a peaceful approach for resolving the Kashmir issue and reducing tensions between India and Pakistan. Asked by mediapersons at a function if a military solution was possible in Kashmir, the Norway PM said, “I personally don’t believe that military solutions resolve problems. I believe in peaceful solutions. I believe in participation of women, youth and peace negotiators.
She went on to say that any military solution would not be a “long lasting and peaceful” one.
Solberg, who is in India on an official visit, is to deliver the inaugural address at the fourth edition of the ‘Raisina Dialogue’, a major foreign policy event organised by the Ministry of External Affairs.
The Norwegian PM remarked that India and Pakistan would have to decide when they want to start talks and hoped that military expenditure could be reduced to increase spending on education and health.
About former Norwegian Prime Minister Kiell Magne Bondevik’s recent visit to the Kashmir valley, Solberg clarified that he went there as “a private citizen”. During his visit, Bondevik had met Kashmiri separatist leaders and subsequently visited Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) too, giving rise to speculation that he was playing the role of a mediator.
However, Solberg said Bondevik has an institute for peace and security which is a private institute in Norway. His visit to Kashmir was not part of any governmental plan or of the 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,” she clarified.
On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Solberg in New Delhi and discussed ways of expanding bilateral ties.
“Good exchange of views on expanding ties across all sectors,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
“Immense opportunity to cooperate in blue economy, shipping, fisheries and aquaculture and renewable energy,” he said.
Earlier, Solberg was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. She also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi where a number of agreements are expected to be signed.
Modi and Solberg discussed a host of issues with an aim to expand the multi-faceted bilateral partnership.
“Adding strength and momentum to our relationship. PM @narendramodi warmly welcomed his Norwegian counterpart @erna_solberg to India ahead of delegation-level talks. The leaders last met at India-Nordic Summit in April 2018. India & Norway share warm and friendly relationship,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Solberg arrived in India on Monday on a three-day visit.