Germany eases Indian Kashmir travel warning

25th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

In a boost to insurgency-hit Indian Kashmir's tourism industry, Germany said on Monday it had changed its travel advisory for its nationals to say foreigners were not a "target".

Germany has become the first foreign country to amend its travel advisory following a sharp decline in militant violence in the scenic Himalayan region.

"The travel advisory issued by the FFO (Federal Foreign Office) for German nationals travelling to the region (Kashmir) has been revised," German embassy spokesman Jens Urban said said in a faxed message.

"The situation has now calmed down considerably," the new advisory says, adding that "foreigners are generally not direct targets of clashes."

The travel advisories of other foreign countries urge their citizens not to travel to Indian Kashmir in light of the insurgency.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each hold part of the disputed region and both claim it fully, although a slow-moving peace process is under way.

The insurgency in Indian Kashmir has left more than 47,000 people dead according to the official count. Rights groups say the number of dead and missing totals at least 70,000.

But police say violence this year is at its lowest since the start of the separatist revolt in 1989. Before it erupted tens of thousands of tourists, including foreigners used to visit the region.

The German move was welcomed by Indian Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who called it a "pragmatic decision."

"I hope that other European countries and the US will follow the lead of Germany," Omar told the Press Trust of India, saying there has been a "dramatic improvement" in security in the region.

Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao was due to meet her Pakistani counterpart in New Delhi on Tuesday to prepare the ground for talks between the two countries' foreign ministers.

© 2011 AFP

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