UNITED NATIONS, July 13 (APP): Reiterating his concern over the deteriorating situation in Indian-held Kashmir, a UN spokesman said Wednesday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stands ready to mediate  peace talks amid heightening tensions between India and Pakistan,  provided the two neighbours accept his good offices.

“Good offices is a standing offer,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric  said in response to a question from a Pakistani journalist who referred  to the ongoing clashes and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s  statement in which he also blamed the news media for inflaming the situation.

But the spokesman said the secretary-general’s good offices work only when both parties agree to mediation.

Dujarric reminded journalists at the regular noon briefing that
the UN chief had always encouraged direct talks between India and  Pakistan for the resolution of their outstanding issues between the two countries.

The spokesman said that the UN chief regretted the loss of over two dozens lives in the clashes between protestors and security forces in Indian-held Kashmir and called for “maximum restraint.”

The clashes were sparked off following the killing of well-known Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani, 22, in a gunfight with the Indian army  on Friday.