India on Sunday rejected UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue and said the only issue to be addressed is the vacation of territories illegally occupied by Pakistan.
Guterres made the offer to mediate while addressing a news conference in Islamabad after his meeting with Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He also said it is important for India and Pakistan to de-escalate "militarily and verbally" and exercise "maximum restraint", Hindustan Times reported.
Responding to Guterres' comments, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: "India's position has not changed. Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and will continue to be an integral part of India. The issue that needs to be addressed is that of vacation of the territories illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan."
Kumar added, "Further issues, if any, would be discussed bilaterally. There is no role or scope for third party mediation."
The Indian side also called on Guterres to "emphasise on the imperative for Pakistan to take credible, sustained and irreversible action to put an end to cross-border terrorism against India, which threatens the most fundamental human right – the right to life, of the people of India, including in Jammu and Kashmir".
Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked last August after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and split the state into two union territories. Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian envoy in Islamabad.
Pakistan has also repeatedly sought to raise the issue at the UN General Assembly and Security Council with the backing of its ally China.
On Sunday, Guterres began a four-day visit to Pakistan, during which he will attend an international conference on Afghan refugees and visit the Kartarpur gurdwara, He told the news conference he is "deeply concerned" over the situation in Kashmir and tensions along the Line of Control (LoC).
"Diplomacy and dialogue remain the only tools that guarantee peace and stability with solutions in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and resolutions of the Security Council," Guterres said. He added he had "repeatedly stressed the importance of exercising maximum restraint".
Guterres said: "I offered my good offices from the beginning. I am ready to help if both countries agree for mediation."
He further said the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan should be given free access on the Indian side of the LoC. "We have taken a position that UN resolutions (on Kashmir) should be implemented, there should be ceasefire (on the LoC) and human rights should be respected," he added.
India doesn't formally recognise the UNMOGIP, saying it has outlived its utility after the Simla Agreement. India has also persistently spurned all offers to mediate on the Kashmir issue, including by US President Donald Trump.