Top US Senator on 2-Day Visit to Kashmir

Srinagar, Aug 16: The influential US Senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain Tuesday arrived on a two-day visit to Indian administered Kashmir. He held discussions with Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the prevailing political and economic situation in the State.

Senator McCain, who is here on a two-day visit arrived by a special US plane and drove to Governor N N Vohra’s residence to meet him.

“During their wide ranging discussions lasting for about two hours, Senator McCain and Governor exchanged views on various important issues of mutual interest,” an official spokesman said.

He said Governor hosted lunch for Senator McCain and other members of the US delegation which comprised Christian Brose, Foreign Policy Advisor; Vance Serchuk, Foreign Policy Advisor, HSGAC and Lt. Lawrence Heyworth, USN, Military Escort.

Lt Gen K T Parnaik, Northern Army Commander, and Lt Gen S A Hasnain GoC 15 Corps were present on the occasion.

The US senator, who lost the US presidential election to Barack Obama, also called on Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the evening.

“During the meeting matters relating to the socio-economic development and protection of environment were discussed in the meeting,” an official spokesman said.

Sources said Omar apprised him about the prevailing political and economic situation in the region. He also apprised him about the measures taken by the administration to ensure peaceful summer.

John McCain is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee and was the Republican Presidential candidate against US President, Barack Obama in the last US Presidential elections.

McCain had visited Pakistan on August 14 and had met its top political leadership including Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

McCain, who represents Arizona in the US Senate, is the highest ranking US politician to visit Jammu and Kashmir but there has been no official word on the purpose of his visit.

It is not clear whether the visiting US dignitary will meet the separatist and mainstream leaders during his two-day visit to the Valley.

McCain, ardent opponent of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, is scheduled to visit a temple tomorrow in Srinagar and will leave thereafter.