No Meeting Between PM Modi, Nawaz Sharif On the Cards: Sushma Swaraj

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj says India wants to hold dialogue with Pakistan but terror and talks cannot go together

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No Meeting Between PM Modi, Nawaz Sharif On the Cards: Sushma Swaraj

There is no bilateral meeting lined up between PM Modi and Nawaz Sharif on sidelines of SCO Summit.


NEW DELHI:  Days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif find themselves in the same room in Kazakhstan capital Astana, India on Monday ruled out any meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the multilateral Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit later this week.

"No meeting is scheduled either from their side or from our side," Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said. There have been suggestions from the Pakistani foreign ministry that Islamabad was open for talks between the two leaders scheduled to be in Astana this week. Both India and Pakistan will be formally admitted as full members to the SCO at the multilateral summit on 8 and 9 June.

Ms Swaraj's response to a query on the possibility of a meeting came at a Press conference, hours after the Indian Army's Director General of Military Operations warned Pakistan of "appropriate retaliatory actions" if its army continued to abet infiltration of terrorists.

It was on the sidelines of the 2015 SCO summit at Ufa in Russia that PM Modi and the Pakistani Prime Minister had agreed for talks between the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan. The Gurdaspur terror attacks took place soon after.

A proposed meeting between the NSAs in September was cancelled at the last minute over a proposed meeting between Pakistan's then Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz and the Kashmiri separatists.

The NSAs later held a secret meeting in Bangkok in December 2015, but this initiative too was followed by the terror attack on the Pathankot air base in Punjab the next month. Top officials of the two countries still met in the following months; but could not cap the downward spiral in relations. Surgical strikes at terrorist launch pads came later, in September 2016, in retaliation to the attack on the army base in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri.

Ms Swaraj rejected suggestions that the government had a "flip-flop" policy in handling Pakistan. India is very clear that "it wants to hold dialogue, resolve all issues bilaterally without mediation from any third country, organisation or anyone else. But at the same time, terror and talks cannot go together," she said.

The minister also emphasised that the government was asking other countries not to see cross-border issues or terrorism emanating from the neighbouring country from the prism of India but see if international terrorism was in any way linked with Pakistan. "Finally, where was Osama bin Laden found? In Pakistan," she said, adding it was time to finalise the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN and define terrorism.

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