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India rejects Pakistan media reports on talks, says first environment must be terror-free

PM Modi and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar have sought to ‘engage’ with Pakistan, a leading daily in the neighbouring country reported Thursday.

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New Delhi: The Modi government Thursday rejected reports of a possible resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, saying India remains firm on its stance that talks won’t take place unless the “atmosphere is free from terror”.

The Ministry of External Affairs’s response came after The Express Tribune, one of Pakistan’s leading national dailies, reported Thursday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar in return letters to their respective counterparts have sought to “engage” with the neighbouring country.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote a congratulatory letter to Modi over his election win, to which the PM responded on 12 June. Jaishankar replied to his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s letter on 18 June.

The Pakistani report suggested a possible resumption of dialogue between both the countries, which has remained stalled for over two years now.

“As per the established diplomatic practice, Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister have responded to the congratulatory messages received from their counterparts in Pakistan,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in a statement.

“In their messages, they have highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan.”

Kumar added that in this letter to Khan, PM Modi had mentioned: “For this (resumption of dialogue), it is important to build an environment of trust, free of terror, violence and hostility.”

The spokesperson also said that Jaishankar in his letter stressed on the “need for an atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence”.

Since its first tenure, the Modi government has made the notion, “talks and terror cannot go together”, as the cornerstone of its foreign policy towards Pakistan.

Also read: Modi’s Bishkek message to Imran Khan — forget talks until you end terrorism

‘No talks’

Both Pakistan PM Khan and his foreign minister wrote the letters to their Indian counterparts earlier this month, prior to the prime ministers’ visit to Kyrgyzstan last week for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

The two leaders exchanged pleasantries on the last day of the SCO summit, but there were no talks or discussion that took place then, according to the MEA.

In February, India and Pakistan were on the brink of a war after the killing of 40 CRPF personnel in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama. Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack.

In retaliatory action, the Indian Air Force struck JeM training camps on 26 February deep inside Pakistan, which responded with an attack on an Indian military installation the very next day.

Khan has been pushing PM Modi for dialogue ever since.

Also read: Act against terrorists like Hafiz Saeed if serious about talks, India tells Pakistan


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