UK move on Mirpur consul irks India

Published December 16, 2004

NEW DELHI, Dec 15: India has protested to Britain over the appointment of an honorary consul in Mirpur, pointing out to London that its office was being located in what India calls Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) , the Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

It said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had made the decision public on December 1 and even announced Chaudhary Mohammed Saeed as the first Honorary Consul in Mirpur.

Forty-four-year-old Saeed is a local businessman with strong connections in the UK and has been awarded a five-year term by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, according to the Express report.

It said stung by the appointment in Mirpur, New Delhi "registered a strong protest with London on the grounds that the city is located in an area that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan".

The foreign ministry shot off a letter to the British High Commission last week after the appointment came to its notice through media reports. British diplomats in New Delhi confirmed receipt of the letter from the Indian foreign ministry.

"I can confirm that we are in receipt of a letter from the Indian government on the appointment of an Honorary Consul in Mirpur," a spokesman for the British High Commission was quoted as saying.

However, he explained that the move was prompted by the fact "there are nearly 500,000 people from this area in UK. This appointment is purely in response to a high demand for consular facilities there."

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