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UN chief reiterates concern over Kashmir situation..

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reiterated his concern over the situation in Kashmir and his call for protecting civilians.

“The Secretary General has expressed and will continue to express his concern at the situation,” his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday in answer to a question about Kashmir at his daily briefing.

“I think we spoke about the situation earlier in the week reminding all parties of the need to protect civilians.”

He added that while he was not speaking specifically about Kashmir, “as a matter of principle, in any issue where there are differences to be bridged between member states, the good offices of the United Nations are available, but they only work if both parties require, ask for it and are open to it.”

India has maintained that the disputes with Pakistan were bilateral issues that need to be sorted out directly by them without the involvement of third parties.

New Delhi holds that Pakistan has recognised this through the Simla Agreement of 1972 between former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then-president of Pakistan.

Protests swept Kashmir this week after four civilians were killed in forces’ action in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday.

Three soldiers and 13 militants also died during Sunday’s three separate gunfights.

During the protests that ensued, a young man was killed in police action in Kangan on Monday and a police constable has been suspended in connection with the incident that is under investigation.

Along the Line of Control (LoC), an Indian soldier was killed, and four army personnel including a lieutenant were injured in Pakistani firing on Tuesday.

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