NEW DELHI: A third group of foreign diplomats were expected to visit the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir this week to witness first-hand the changes in region since its special status was revoked in August 2019 and integrated with the rest of the country.

The visit – which is yet to be announced officially by New Delhi – was expected to take place on 17 February, a person familiar with the matter said.

India had previously organised visits for two groups of diplomats in January and February last year. They had met some members of the local population and top officials in the state administration.

The visit of the third group of diplomats comes after two key developments in the region -- the restoration of 4G internet services and the conclusion of local body polls. The two issues were seen as irritants between India and the international community with some groups of lawmakers of Europe, UK and the US expressing concern particularly over the lack of internet services and the imprisonment of local leaders. Internet services were restored earlier this month after a gap of 18 months which was welcomed by groups in the region as well as foreign governments.

"We welcome the resumption of 4G mobile internet in India's Jammu & Kashmir. This marks an important step for local residents and we look forward to continued political & economic progress to restore normalcy in J&K," the US State Department said in a Twitter post.

The local body elections or the polls for the District Development Councils in the union territory saw more than 50% voter turn out according to news reports.