India Pakistan NSA level talks hanging in the balance
India and Pakistan blamed each other on Saturday for putting at risk a planned peace meeting, with New Delhi warning that talks would be called off if its bitter rival decided to meet separatist leaders of the disputed region of Kashmir.
The trading of charges just hours before a meeting of the national security advisers (NSA) of the nuclear-armed neighbours could derail talks for the second time under the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and further sour relations.
There will be no talks with Pakistan if it insists on making the Hurriyat a third party or discussing Kashmir, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday, asserting that the talks between the national security advisers of India and Pakistan must focus only on terrorism.
Pakistan had till tonight to offer twin assurances without which crucial talks scheduled for tomorrow in Delhi will not be held, said Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj this evening.
Kashmir cannot be part of the agenda; nor can Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistani National Security Adviser meet Kashmiri separatists in Delhi, the minister said, reasserting that India will not accept a “third party” to the talks.
Earlier, Aziz said in Islamabad he was disappointed that India had “virtually cancelled” the scheduled talks.
The prospects of the much-awaited talks, set between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Russia last month, had also been clouded in recent weeks by a series of militant attacks and border skirmishes. Swaraj said there had been 91 ceasefire violations since the meeting between the premiers.