Sushma echoes Modi, says blasts can mar talks

Sushma echoes Modi, says blasts can mar talks

“Words of peace can be drowned in the noise of explosions,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his Pakistani counterpart M Nawaz Sharif, obviously to drive home the point that while New Delhi was keen to mend its ties with Islamabad, the menace of cross-border terrorism could derail dialogue.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told journalists that Modi had made it clear to Sharif during the meeting on Tuesday that terror must stop for talks between India and Pakistan to succeed.

New Delhi made public Modi’s tough words for Sharif on a day Islamabad denied reports that the issue of Kashmir was sidelined during Pakistan Prime Minister’s meeting with his new counterpart in India.

“The issue of Kashmir was raised and to say that Kashmir was sidelined is not correct,” PTI quoted Sartaz Aziz, Sharif’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, as telling journalists in Islamabad.

“If the bomb blasts stopped and India and Pakistan talked to each other, then both sides could listen to each other clearly. But if bomb blasts continued, the words of parleys would be lost in the din,” Swaraj quoted Modi telling Sharif during the meeting on Tuesday.

She was talking to journalists after taking over as the new External Affairs Minister on Wednesday.
Swaraj was sworn in on Monday and assigned the External Affairs portfolio on Tuesday.

She, however, could not formally take charge on Tuesday, as she was busy assisting Modi in his bilateral meetings with the foreign leaders who had come to New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new government on Monday.

She was present during Modi’s meeting with Sharif. Her revelation of Modi’s words to Sharif was apparently an attempt to drive home the point that the new prime minister has not softened his stance on the issue of anti-India terror emanating from Pakistan.

Modi was very critical about erstwhile Congress-led government’s allegedly soft policy on Pakistan.
He talked tough with Sharif on Tuesday, particularly conveying concerns over slow pace of the trial of the masterminds of the November 26-28, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the role of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba in the recent attack on the Consulate General of India at Herat in western Afghanistan.

But he also accepted the proposal of the Pakistan prime minister to restart structured bilateral engagements, which were suspended by his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s government in reaction to the beheading of an Indian Army soldier by the neighbouring country’s army personnel near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2013.

Sharif, unlike other dignitaries from Pakistan, did not meet Kashmiri separatist leaders during his visit to India on Monday and Tuesday.

This fuelled speculation in the neighbouring country about the issue being sidelined in Islamabad’s engagements with New Delhi.

Aziz, however, told mediapersons in Islamabad that Pakistan had a clear stance on Kashmir as, without the resolution of the issue, the objective of long-lasting peace could not be achieved.

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