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Pakistan, Saudi FM hold discussions on Kashmir

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman is welcomed by Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan ahead of their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan on February 17, 2019. ( Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout - Anadolu Agency )

Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf expressed “concern” Friday about the situation in disputed Jammu and Kashmir after India’s annulment of the decades-long special rights of the disputed region earlier this month, Anadolu Agency reports.

Al-Assaf made his views known about the “grave” circumstances during a telephone conversation with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who informed him of deteriorating human rights in the valley, according to a statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry.

Qureshi apprised Al-Assaf of his recent contacts with foreign ministers of several countries, and international forums, including the Secretary General of the UN Security Council (UNSC), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) regarding Jammu and Kashmir.

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The two leaders agreed to remain in touch and work for peace in the region, the statement said.

The Jammu and Kashmir region has been facing a clampdown since Aug. 5, when the Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution which conferred a special status on the area. According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of people, mostly political leaders, have been detained or arrested by authorities since the Indian Parliament made the move.

Kashmiri leaders and residents fear the move is an attempt by India to change the demography of the state, where some groups have been fighting Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

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