Guterres Kashmir

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks to the press at the United Nations Headquarters Dec. 6, 2017, in New York City. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

UNITED NATIONS —U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres reiterated July 9 his offer of "good offices" to the leaders of India and Pakistan to find a solution to their outstanding issues.

Asked at his news conference if he was doing anything about the rising tensions in Kashmir, he said: "Whenever I meet the leaders of both India and Pakistan, I always offer my good offices and I hope that (in) the future (they) will be able to create the mechanisms of dialogue that will allow for this problem to find an adequate political solution that the people can benefit from.

"It is clear for me that only political solutions can address political problems," he added.

India has consistently rejected mediation efforts by Guterres and others saying that the two countries had accepted in their 1972 Simla Agreement that it was a bilateral matter and, therefore, third parties had no role in resolving it.

The agreement was signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was then the President of Pakistan.

On July 11, Guterres mounted a strong defense of reports on Kashmir recently issued by him and Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, saying that they were covered by the "the general mandate of human rights instruments."

Guterres backed Zeid's call in his report for an investigation into the human rights situation in Kashmir, saying it represented the "voice of the U.N."

India had objected to Guterres's report on children in armed conflict that referred to Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and to Zeid's report on human rights in Kashmir that called for the establishment of an international investigation into the situation there.

India said that Zeid had no mandate for his report which showed a "clear bias" and that Guterres had overstepped the Security Council when he referred to India in his report.

Asked at his news conference if he fully backed the Zeid report, Guterres said: "As you can imagine all the action of the Human Rights High Commissioner is an action that represents the voice of the U.N. in relation to that issue."

Answering a question about the reports running counter to India's long-standing assertion that Kashmir was a part of India and any problem concerning it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, Guterres said there was a distinction between political matters and human rights.

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