Pakistan Backtracks After Foreign Minister Claims PM Modi Offered Talks

After his controversial election victory last month, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered an olive branch to India, proposing talks to resolve Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Imran Khan by telephone (File)

New Delhi:

The new Pakistan government has backtracked after claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered talks in a letter to Imran Khan, who was sworn in as Prime Minister on Saturday. Sources say in the letter, PM Modi had expressed India's commitment to build good neighbourly relations and "pursue meaningful and constructive engagement" for the benefit of the people of the region.

Government sources told NDTV that India's position - that terror and talks cannot go together - has not changed. Sources also said the Prime Minister had recalled a phone conversation with Imran Khan in which they spoke of their shared vision to bring peace, security and prosperity in the subcontinent in order to make it free of terror and violence, and to focus on development.

Referring to that letter on Sunday, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: "I have been told by the Foreign Secretary that the Indian PM has sent a letter in which he has congratulated Mr Imran Khan and he has he sent a message for talks, it is very positive."

Today, Pakistan clarified that its foreign minister "had not stated that 'the Indian Prime Minister had made an offer of a dialogue.'"

The statement from Islamabad referred to the "controversy being unnecessarily created by sections of the Indian media" and said Mr Qureshi "had said that the Indian Prime Minister in his letter to Imran Khan had also mentioned something similar to what the Foreign Minister elucidated earlier i.e. that the way forward was only through constructive engagement."

Pakistan, the statement said, looks forward to a mutually beneficial, uninterrupted dialogue with India to resolve all issues.

After his controversial election victory last month, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered an olive branch to India, proposing talks to resolve Kashmir.

The two leaders spoke by telephone.

Imran Khan had said Pakistan was ready to respond positively to any effort on dialogue. "If India comes and takes one step toward us, we will take two," said the cricket legend turned politician, who had targeted India throughout his campaign for last month's election.

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