The United States on Wednesday said it supports direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on the disputed Kashmir region and called for calm and restraint as the dispute escalated.
“We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern,” a department spokeswoman said in a statement.
In the meantime, the Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had expressed concern to his Indian counterpart about the situation in the disputed Kashmir region.
“I have to spoken to the Indian Foreign Minister,” Raab said on Wednesday. “We’ve expressed some of our concerns around the situation and called for calm, but also had a clear readout of the situation from the perspective of the Indian government.”
Pakistan said it would downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with arch-rival India after New Delhi stripped its portion of the contested Kashmir region of special status.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have twice waged war over Kashmir and in February engaged in an aerial clash.
India, which has been battling insurgents there for 30 years, said the special status had hindered Kashmir’s development and it wanted to fully integrate the region with the rest of the country.
Thousands of Indian security forces kept a lid on protests in Kashmir on Wednesday, helped by the continued suspension of telephone and internet services after the Himalayan region’s special status was scrapped this week.
Streets in the main Kashmiri city of Srinagar were deserted for a third day, with almost all shops shut, barring some pharmacies. Armed federal police manned mobile checkpoints across the city, limiting people’s movement.