Pakistan Spoilt Talks By Meeting Hurriyat Leaders: Sushma Swaraj

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New York

New York:  External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said Pakistan "spoilt the talks" by talking to Hurriyat leaders just ahead of Foreign Secretaries of the two nations were scheduled to meet in Islamabad last month.

"New (Narendra Modi) government has given a new signal. So they (Pakistan) spoiled the talks, they spoilt the game," Ms Swaraj told reporters after her meeting with Foreign Ministers of IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session in New York.

When asked to comment on Pakistan's National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz's remarks on Thursday that talks between the two countries could now happen only if New Delhi took the initiative, Ms Swaraj said, "No question of first or second. As far as our reaction is we have said repeatedly that if a reaction had to come, it had to come at this time only. The initiative was there from our side," she said.

The minister added it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony.

During the bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers, it was discussed that trade should start immediately at the Wagah-Attari border, Ms Swaraj said.

She said PM Sharif had suggested that foreign secretaries should meet for bilateral talks and "we agreed to that."

"But just as the talks are about to happen on the 25th (August), four days prior to that the (Pakistani envoy) is talking with Hurriyat leaders, then who spoilt the game?" she asked.

Mr Aziz had said that there was nothing new in Pakistani officials talking to Hurriyat leaders and that such talks had been happening for the last 20 years.

Ms Swaraj said as far as talks with Hurriyat leaders were concerned, the leaders who came from Pakistan used to talk with the group.

But "for the first time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to India and he did not talk to them because he understood India's signal. Things began from there," she said.

"But before any talks, the ambassador has met with the Hurriyat leaders, that has never happened," she said.


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