France is "closely monitoring the situation in Kashmir," said the Elysee Palace today after the phone call between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron on Friday. In a statement released after the conversation, the French government said that the talks between the two leaders had taken place "in a spirit of trust and openness" that characterized the relationship between the two nations.
The statement also said that Prime Minister Modi and President Macron discussed the situation in the Middle East and agreed to "work together to alleviate tensions by calling on (all) parties to show restraint and responsibility".
"In the spirit of trust and openness that characterize their relations, the French President and the Indian Prime Minister discussed the situation in the Kashmir region, which France continues to monitor closely," the French government said.
The heads of state and government also discussed bilateral military and civilian nuclear relations, as well as climate change.
"The two heads of state and government expressed their interest in strengthening our military and civilian nuclear partnership, and in improving our operational cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region," the statement said.
"The President and Prime Minister agreed on the importance of staying in close contact with climate change and biodiversity in the face of key events ahead in 2020," said the French government.
On Thursday, foreign envoys from 15 countries, including the United States, were invited to a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir under the supervision of the Indian government.
The visiting envoys came from smaller nations such as Togo, Niger and Guyana. European countries, including France, the European Union and India's allies in the Middle East, stayed away.
The United States described the envoys visit as an "important step," but said they remain "concerned" with the arrest of politicians and the internet blackout.
This was the second visit by a foreign delegation to Kashmir. in October, 23 members of the European Union – most of them right-wing parties – were led through Srinagar under strict control, but this was in their personal capacity.
The opposition has criticized the government for allowing foreign delegations to visit but preventing the Indian parliamentarians from doing so.
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been in the headlines since August 5, when the center canceled its special status under Article 370 and divided it into two parts of the Union.
Since then, Kashmir has been severely restricted – including one of the longest internet closings in the world and the detention of key leaders like three former prime ministers for over five months.
Last week the Supreme Court said the permanent shutdown of the Internet in Kashmir was illegal. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court said the ban could only be imposed "temporarily" and asked the authorities to immediately review all such curbs in Kashmir.