India insists NSA-level talks will only be on terrorism

India insists NSA-level talks will only be on terrorism

Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said India "sticks to its stand" that dialogue must be held only on terrorism at the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks, which are under a cloud over the issue of Kashmiri separatists.

Asserting that the agenda for the talks was set in Ufa, the minister said Pakistan must not deviate from it.

"The agenda decided at the talks which took place between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif in Ufa was acceptable to both the sides," he told reporters here. "India sticks to that agenda and that cannot not be changed," he said to a question whether the NSA-level talks scheduled in Delhi tomorrow could be put off.

"Our agenda is one, whatever talks are held must be on terrorism," he said. On Pakistan insisting on interacting with separatist Hurriyat leaders, Singh said he wanted to make it clear that India was ready to talk, but its for the neighbour to decide whether it wanted to hold talks or not.

To a repeated question as to whether the talks could be called off, he said "It's up to Pakistan to decide."

Singh's remarks came against the backdrop of mounting suspension over holding of the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks after both sides hardened their positions on the issue of Kashmiri separatists.

While India has made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Aziz was not appropriate, Pakistan reacted strongly to insist that it would not depart from the "established past practice" of interacting with separatist Hurriyat leaders.

India has described the invitation to Hurriyat representatives as a "provocative action" and accused Pakistan of trying to evade its commitment to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism as had been agreed between Modi and Sharif in Ufa (Russia) last month.

Singh had said yesterday, "We are firm on our stand that whatever talks, dialogue are held with Pakistan, that should only and only be on terrorism."

He had also said that talks and terrorism can never go together. The Home Minister had said India's intentions are clear to have dialogue with Pakistan, but that should be only on terrorism.

India has made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Pakistan's National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who is scheduled to arrive here on Sunday for the talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, was unacceptable.

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