Ahead of a meeting between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz here next week, India spelt out the bottom-line for renewed engagement with Pakistan: that forward movement in talks will be contingent on peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control.
Noting that the issues to figure in the meeting between Khurshid and the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Aziz were ‘self-evident’, spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Syed Akbaruddin said they flowed from the meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries in New York in September.
“One outcome (from the prime ministers’ meeting) was the precondition for moving ahead in our bilateral engagement which depends on peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control. “So, they will assess where they have moved on since then. Does it require anything further? And that will be basically the basis for further discussion,” he said.
Aziz is travelling to India to attend the ASEM (Asia-Europe) Foreign Ministers meet in Gurgaon, and he will hold a bilateral meeting with Khurshid on the sidelines of the event.
However, the spokesperson also noted that the bilateral meetings on the margins of multilaterals are normally very ‘limited’ in nature. He also confirmed that Aziz has sought an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. However, he added no decision has been taken so far on such a call-on.
India is expected to convey its concerns over the series of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army during the meeting with Aziz. Prime Minister Singh has already expressed his ‘disappointment’ with Nawaz Sharif over LoC and working boundary skirmishes.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2013.