No scope ever for third party in talks with Pakistan: India

New Delhi, March 20:

India on Friday rebuffed Pakistan’s attempts to involve the separatist Hurriyat in talks on Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it has always stood for resolving all bilateral issues, including on Kashmir, peacefully and there would never be “any scope” for a third party coming in.

MEA spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin
MEA spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, addressing a media briefing, said: “Does India permit or countenance involvement of third parties other than the two governments in issues relating to India and Pakistan?

“The answer is: We have stated repeatedly that our position has been that we are committed to resolving all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir bilaterally with Pakistan, through a peaceful bilateral dialogue, and that there was never and will be never any scope whatsoever for involvement of any third party,” he said.

To another question on the Pakistan High Commission’s invite to the separatist Kashmiri leaders to attend the Pakistan Day function on March 23 here, he said: “There is still some time away (for March 23); I think surprise is an element that needs to be taken into consideration.. Wait and watch.”

Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is to lead a delegation of the Kashmiri separatist leaders to attend the Pakistan Day function here next week.

In a statement, the Hurriyat has said that the delegation will hold “a detailed deliberation with Pakistan over the resumption of dialogue with India and various other political issues connected with the Kashmir dispute”.

Last year, India had called off the foreign secretary level talks set for August 25 after the Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the talks, ignoring India’s request not to do so.

Basit is to meet the Mirwaiz on Sunday and is expected to discuss efforts to bring back the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue process.

The Pakistani envoy had earlier met hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and updated him about the talks between Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in Islamabad earlier this month.

To another question on Basit saying in Kolkata earlier this week that his country is planning to open a consulate in the eastern metropolis, Akbaruddin said that a consulate can only be opened with an okay by the central government and there was no such request pending with the ministry of external affairs.

“It can only be opened with the concurrence of the federal government, and matters relating to external relations are always referred to the MEA.. At this stage there is nothing on the table,” he said.

To another question on a militant attack on a police station in Kathua in Jammu region, in which four people were killed, the spokesperson said that India will continue to flag its concerns on terrorism. IANS

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