India on Thursday dismissed as "fake news" a Pakistani media report claiming New Delhi is ready for talks with Islamabad, saying there is no change in its position that Pakistan must first take "verifiable" and "irreversible" action against terrorism for resumption of dialogue.
Rejecting the report, the Ministry of External Affairs said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar made no reference to talks in their response to congratulatory messages from their Pakistani counterparts.
A report in the Express Tribune on Thursday claimed that PM Modi and Dr Jaishankar responded to Islamabad's renewed call for dialogue by conveying New Delhi's desire to engage with all countries, including Pakistan, for the prosperity of the region.
Responding to the queries regarding the replies to congratulatory messages by Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "As per the established diplomatic practice, PM and EAM have responded to the congratulatory messages received from their counterparts in Pakistan."
In their messages, they have highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan, he said.
"In his message, PM said ''For this, It is important to build an environment of trust, free of terror, violence and hostility''. EAM also emphasised the need for an ''atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence''," Mr Kumar said.
The letter by PM Modi was sent to Mr Khan on June 12, the MEA said.
Asked if there was any reference to holding talks in the letters, it said there was no such reference.
Later, at a media briefing, Mr Kumar said the letters were written by the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister as part of established diplomatic protocol.
"There is no reference to talks in that letter. These efforts to peddle fake news continue from the Pakistani side...Please one should first check with us," he said.
"I don't think there is any change in our position. We have made it very clear that Pakistan has to take action (against terrorism). It has to take action which is verifiable. It has to take action which is irreversible. Unless we are convinced that action has been taken on the ground and not the temporary action which we have seen several times in the past (there can be no talks resumption)," he said.
India will not be fooled by some cosmetic action here and there, some concrete action will have to be taken by Pakistan, he asserted.
Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Mr Khan exchanged pleasantries last week during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bishkek.
It is also learnt that Mr Khan congratulated PM Modi on his election victory during their first face-to-face interaction, which took place in the Leaders' Lounge at the SCO venue.
However, there was no meeting between the two leaders.
The exchange of pleasantries came more than two weeks after Mr Khan and Mr Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts, pushing for restarting the bilateral talks.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
Mr Khan also made a telephone call to PM Modi on May 26 and expressed his desire to work together for the betterment of people of the two countries.
On his part, PM Modi said creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.
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