UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed the grave crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they met on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France, on Monday, with the world body chief reaffirming his call for India and Pakistan not to escalate the situation, his spokesman said.

“The issue of Kashmir did come up. For the Secretary-General’s part, he reiterated the message that he has been saying publicly, and that is basically a need for all parties to avoid any sort of escalation,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in response to a question at the regular noon briefing.

Pressed further on the details of Guterres-Modi talks, the spokesman said that Guterres reiterated UN’s position along the lines of his August 8 statement which he made in the wake of India’s annexation of occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan has reacted strongly to the Indian move, saying violates international law and that the UN must intervene.

In the Aug 8 statement, the secretary-general said he had been following the situation in Jammu and Kashmir “with concern”, making an appeal for “maximum restraint”.

“The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter...and applicable Security Council resolutions”, said the statement.

“The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter.”

The UN has long maintained an institutional presence in the disputed state,  with the areas under separate administration, divided by the Line of Control. The UN Military Observer Group in Indian and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) observes and reports on any ceasefire violations.

In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the United Nations had a responsibility to ensure that the people of Kashmir had the right to decide their own future through a referendum.

The decades-old dispute remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council, which has passed 11 resolutions on the decades-old Kashmir dispute.