India defends G20 venue in Kashmir and resists criticism of Pakistan

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

Kashmir is fully claimed but partially ruled by its two nuclear-armed neighbors, who have fought two out of three wars for control of the region.

Jammu and Kashmir was a special privilege state until 2019 when the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi split it into two federally controlled territories 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 taking place across India and it is only natural for them to be held in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, which are an integral and inalienable part of India,” Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters .

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India currently holds the one-year rotating presidency of the G20 and is expected 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 Srinagar and Leh in Ladakh in April and May.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the choice of venues.

(Reporting by Shivam Patel in New Delhi; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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