India defends G20 Kashmir venue, countering Pakistan criticism


New Delhi (Reuters) – India on Thursday countered Pakistan’s objection to the holding of Group of 20 (G20) meetings in the Himalayan regions of Kashmir and Ladakh, saying it was free to hold meetings on its own territory.

Kashmir is claimed in full but ruled in part by the two nuclear-armed neighbours who have fought two of three wars over control of the region.

Jammu and Kashmir was a state having special privileges until 2019, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government split it into two federally controlled territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Islamabad condemned India’s decision to hold the meeting in the two territories earlier this week, calling the move an irresponsible violation of international law.

“G20 events and meetings are happening across India and it’s only natural to do them in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which are an integral and inalienable part of India,” Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters.

India currently holds the rotating year-long presidency of the G20 and is set to host a summit in New Delhi in September.

On Friday, India released a full calendar of events leading up to the summit, which included G20 and Youth 20 meetings in Kashmir’s summer capital of Srinagar and in Leh, in Ladakh, in April and May.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the choice of venues.

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