‘The visit by our ambassador and other foreign diplomats to Jammu and Kashmir was a useful step,’ senior US diplomat Alice Wells said

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells, who recently visited India, has said that she was pleased to see "some incremental steps, including the gradual return of internet service in Kashmir." Addressing a briefing about her recently concluded three-nation tour, Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South And Central Asian affairs, said: “On Jammu and Kashmir, I was pleased to see some incremental steps, including the partial return of internet services in Kashmir. And the visit by our ambassador and other foreign diplomats to Jammu and Kashmir is something that I know was extensively covered in the press."

Envoys of 15 countries, including the US, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Maldives, Morocco, Fiji, Norway, Philippines, Argentina, visited the Valley earlier this month. Terming the visit of foreign envoys to Kashmir as "useful step", the senior US diplomat said, "We also continue to urge the government to permit regular access by our diplomats, and to move swiftly to release those political leaders detained without charge."

Commenting on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Wells said, "The visit also offered an opportunity to hear more regarding developments with India's Citizenship Amendment Act, which is undergoing I would say a vigorous democratic scrutiny, whether it's in the streets, by the political opposition, media, and the courts. We continue to underscore the importance of the principle of equal protection under the law."

She also underlined that India's broadening strategic horizons over the past two decades have resulted in a shift away from a passive foreign policy into one that more vigorously advances Indian interests. "Nowhere is that more true than in the Indo-Pacific region. Whether it's in our growing maritime and naval cooperation, the Quad, India's Act East Policy, there's virtually no daylight in our approaches to the Indo-Pacific. Deputy National Security Advisor Pottinger's remarks at Raisina endorsing an Indo-Pacific region stretching from California to Kilimanjaro only further reinforced the strategic convergence," she said.

Wells highlighted that her visit also focused on how to build on the diplomatic and defense gains achieved during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue last December. "We also remain focused on achieving a trade deal that promotes fair and reciprocal trade, and my colleagues from USTR are in Delhi now to continue this progress," the diplomat stated.