UNITED NATIONS - Heightened tensions in Jammu and Kashmir will likely be in the spotlight Friday at the United Nations, when the leaders of India and Pakistan address the General Assembly.
“He expects the international community to respond in time before there is a catastrophe,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told VOA of his prime minister, Imran Khan, who will be making his U.N. debut.
Kashmir has been a regional flashpoint for decades. India and Pakistan have fought several wars over the majority-Muslim territory since they both gained independence from Britain in 1947.
India’s Aug. 5 decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir has led to a security crackdown and communications blackout in the territory and a dangerous escalation between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be making his first visit to the U.N. since his re-election in May, and it will be his first appearance at the annual debate in five years.
Leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, have urged the two nations to open a dialogue to resolve the situation.
The foreign ministers of China and Russia are also scheduled to deliver their statements Friday, as is the prime minister of the Bahamas. His island nation was ravaged last month by Hurricane Dorian, and he is likely to talk about the effects of climate change as his nation struggles to clean up and rebuild.
On Thursday, the assembly heard from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said he remained committed to a two-state solution with Israel despite recent setbacks.
Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, delivered his country’s statement, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered an election setback and remained at home. Katz called on the Palestinians to return to negotiations without any preconditions.
He spoke of the Sept. 14 attack on two major Saudi oil facilities and said it was carried out on the direct orders of Iranian leader Ali Khamenei in order to destabilize world oil supplies.
“I call on international community to unite in order to stop Iran,” Katz said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said the attacks on his country, carried out by 25 cruise missiles and drones, cut Saudi oil production by almost half and are a test for the international community’s will.
“The latest attacks and aggression have exposed the Iranian regime to the entire world,” he said. “It is necessary for the international community today to realize that cutting off sources of finance is the best way to compel the regime to renounce its militias, to prevent it from developing ballistic missiles, and to put an end to its destabilizing activities in the region and in the world.”
Washington and Riyadh have accused Iran of being responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities. Tehran has denied any involvement.
U.N. and international experts have gone to Saudi Arabia to support the investigation into the attack. A Saudi official said this week that once all work is done, Riyadh will decide its next steps in consultations with its allies.