India protests UK diplomat’s visit to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

MUMBAI (Reuters) -India said on Saturday it had lodged a protest over a senior British diplomat’s visit to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, saying the trip this week had infringed on India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Kashmir is claimed in full, but controlled only in part, by nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars and engaged in numerous clashes over the Himalayan region since 1947.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Jane Marriott visited Pakistani Kashmir along with an official from the UK Foreign Office on Jan. 10, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra has lodged a “strong protest” to the British High Commissioner to India about the visit, the ministry said, calling the trip “unacceptable”.

Asked to comment on the Indian protest, a spokesperson for the British Foreign Office confirmed Marriott’s visit and added: “She met with the UK-Pakistani diaspora, played in a football match with street children and visited a bakery.”

This week’s visit came as both India and Pakistan head to polls for elections this year.

(Reporting by M. SriramAdditional reporting by Sarah Young in LondonEditing by Helen Popper)