Envoys from European Union (EU), Australia, Afghanistan and other Gulf countries on Thursday refused India’s invitation to visit occupied Kashmir saying they wanted to meet people of the valley “unescorted”, reported The Hindu. 

Diplomats from nearly 17 countries were extended an invitation by New Delhi for a two-day visit to occupied Kashmir beginning Thursday, which entered its 158th day of lockdown today. 

According to NDTV, countries which will take part in the visit include the US, Vietnam, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Guyana, Nigeria, Niger, Argentina Philippines, Norway, Morocco, Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh and Peru. “The envoys would first be taken to Srinagar and then later to Jammu to meet the valley’s Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu and other officials”, the TV channel reported.

uropean sources told NDTV that the envoys from EU said they did not want a “guided tour” unlike the European Parliament members (MEPs) who visited the region under heavy escort in October last year. 

The Hindu further said the Indian government has decided to organise a separate visit for EU envoys at a later date. 

When asked, the government sources denied any suggestion that EU envoys had pulled out due to restrictions in the programme, saying the authorities were unable to accommodate all 28 countries on this trip.

The publication further said that diplomats from Australia, Afghanistan and Gulf countries declined the invitation due to other commitments.