India-Pakistan standoff likely to hit PMs' meet

Islamabad puts ball in Delhi's court

India-Pakistan standoff likely to hit PMs' meet

A day after Pakistan called off the National Security Adviser (NSA)-level talks, uncertainty looms large over the proposed meeting between the two countries’ prime ministers in New York next month.

Pakistan on Sunday refused to adhere to the red lines drawn by India and called off the talks. With this, the road map of engagement Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart M Nawaz Sharif had agreed upon at Ufa in Russia last month appears to have come under a shadow.

The talks between the two NSAs were to be followed by two other meetings — one between chiefs of India’s Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers and the other between India’s Director General of Military Operations and his counterpart in the neighbouring country to explore ways to avert ceasefire violations.

Pakistan on Sunday indicated its willingness to hold both the meetings as scheduled. Officials in New Delhi, however, said while India remained committed to the process of engagement agreed upon in Ufa, it would take a call only after assessing “recent developments”.

The United States on Sunday said it was disappointed over cancellation of the NSA-level talks. “We are disappointed the talks will not happen this weekend, and encourage India and Pakistan to resume formal dialogue soon,” said US State Department spokesperson John Kirby.

Though it had not been officially announced yet, Modi and Sharif were expected to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month to review outcomes of the engagements they had agreed upon in Ufa on July 10.

“Pakistan will not propose talks in New York; it is now up to India to propose talks,” Pakistan Foreign Affairs and NSA Sartaj Aziz told an Indian TV channel on Sunday. Aziz was scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday and meet Modi’s NSA Ajit Doval on Monday. The two prime ministers had agreed in Ufa that their NSAs would discuss all issues “connected to terrorism”.

Officials in New Delhi on Sunday said the possibility of India sending a proposal to Pakistan seeking a meeting between the two prime ministers in New York was “very slim” now. A senior official told Deccan Herald if Islamabad asked for such a meeting on the sidelines of the UN meet, New Delhi would consider it.

However, any future engagement would be possible only if Pakistan agreed to adhere to the “red lines” drawn by India, he added.

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