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Norway neither asked nor offered to mediate between Pakistan, India: reports

Updated January 08, 2019

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Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg during an exclusive interview with India's NDTV. ─ NDTV screengrab
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg during an exclusive interview with India's NDTV. ─ NDTV screengrab

After certain sections of Indian media on Monday reported that Norway's prime minister had offered to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi, Oslo's ambassador denied the 'erroneous' claims, saying that Norway had neither been asked, nor had it offered to mediate.

Norway's Ambassador to New Delhi Nils Ragnar Kamsvag was quoted by India Today as saying that Prime Minister Erna Solberg "has not offered to mediate between India and Pakistan as has been erroneously reported. Norway has neither been asked nor offered to mediate."

Norwegian premier Solberg, who is on a three-day visit to India, was asked in an interview with NDTV yesterday whether there was "scope for mediation" between both countries by Oslo given its "traditional peacekeeping role".

"If there is an interest from the partners, we will try to use the mechanisms that we know. We have been working quite a lot in different countries but we always have this one basic thinking: The partners need to want to sit down by the table and discuss," she explained.

"Then, of course, if there is a need for a mediator, a need for a facilitator to fix ─ even though these are two very big countries that should manage to sort out things between themselves."

The Norwegian prime minister, when asked whether Pakistan and India should talk more, said that she believed "all countries in the world should be talking more".

She added that she thought both Pakistan and India should decrease their military expenditure "because we need more money for other areas to boost development ─ on health, education".

"But I think that means that you have to try to decrease tensions between countries. And after such a long time ─ it's been a long time since 1947 ─ now should probably be time to find good approaches between the two countries. But it's up to you, the countries. It's not a Norwegian mission," she added.

Solberg was also asked about Norway's former premier Kjell Magne Bondevik's visit to India-held Kashmir last year, during which he met Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, sparking controversy in India.

Bondovik had also visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir at President Sardar Masood Khan's invitation.

Solberg said that Bondovik's trip to Kashmir was not an official visit. "I think he was invited and he wanted to see if there was some possibility to helping out. But there is no official mission."

The Norwegian prime minister was also quizzed on Bondevik's view that there cannot be a military solution to the Kashmir conflict. Solberg replied: "I don't think there is a military solution to any situation like this. I think you have to have a popular support. You have to have good trust between the partners in any region where still there is a conflict. [...] What we have learnt is that you have to bring in popular support and by getting women and youth into a peace process and that's when you build a solid peace in an area where there have been a conflict."

She went on to say: "I always hope that we can find a solution, get the partners to sit down, decrease violence in the area and all of that. But that's up to the partners."

"The only thing we know is to make sure that all partners are talking to each other," she added.