Onus on Pak to create environment for improving ties: Jaitley
Addressing investors, analysts and business executives at the think-tank Council on Foreign Relations here yesterday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
"(With) Pakistan, the border frequently becomes tensed where there are exchanges on that border. I think the message in the context of Pakistan is that India is interested in improving the relationship with Pakistan and therefore the onus of responsibility for creating an environment in which the relationship can grow would also depend much more on Pakistan and the kind of provocations which come from there," he said.
"This message that we are interested in normalising our relationship with them or at least improving our relationship with them and (that) the onus is on Pakistan for this purpose is very loud and clear," he said during the discussion with former US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who asked him about India's foreign policy priorities.
Pakistan and India have been involved in a war of words recently with leaders from both sides exchanging sharp comments after Prime Minister Modi's critical remarks about Pakistan during his Dhaka visit and in the wake of India's military action in Myanmar.
Jaitley brought the issue of Pakistan at the end, after listing India's "excellent" ties with its other neighbours such as Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
"There was a time, not so long ago, where India was in the midst of a disturbed neighbourhood and a number of problems of that disturbed neighbourhood was spilling into India," he said, adding that Modi took an unprecedented decision to invite the heads of government of the SAARC nations for his swearing-in ceremony at New Delhi last year.
"This turned out to be a very correct and a very positive move and since then we have not looked back," he said.
On India's relations with China, Jaitley said Modi has particularly developed an "excellent relationship" even with the Chinese leadership. "We have a boundary issue with them and the boundary issue is unresolved. There are other several issues relating to China which are issues of our concern but at least the tense situation around the boundary does not exist," he said, adding that economic and trade relations with Beijing have also become "fairly normal."
Jaitley said there were "huge pending issues" with Bangladesh and Prime Minister Modi signed a historic boundary agreement with Dhaka during his recent visit to the country. On Myanmar, he said when the insurgents recently were holding camps in Myanmar, the government there cooperated with India in tackling those insurgents.
He said India's relations with Nepal are also very strong with it playing a leading role in the relief and rehabilitation in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in April. On Sri Lanka, he said an Indian prime minister had not visited the country in the last 28 years due to "constraints of domestic polity" but Modi visited the island nation. Hesaid India has "cordial" relations with other nations and there are "no serious issues."