India, Pak defer talks

New Delhi clears Islamabad's request for SIT visit

India, Pak defer talks

India and Pakistan on Thursday mutually agreed to defer the foreign secretary-level talks slated for January 15 in Islamabad, but stayed the course for restarting the stalled bilateral dialogue.

New Delhi has also accepted Islamabad’s proposal to send a special investigation team (SIT) from Pakistan to probe the attack on the Pathankot air base.   

“The Pakistan government is considering sending a special investigation team to probe the Pathankot terror attack. We look forward to their visit,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Vikas Swarup, adding that India would extend all necessary cooperation to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack.

India welcomed Pakistan’s actions against terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) over the past few days, terming them as “important, positive first steps” and noted the “considerable progress” made into the probe.

Swarup added that India would continue to look for “credible and comprehensive” action against terrorists in Pakistan.  
 
Pakistan, however, did not confirm media reports about the arrest of JeM founder Moulana Masood Azhar, who was among the people New Delhi had asked Islamabad to act against for the attack.

“I am not aware of any such arrest. I do not have anything else apart from the statement issued by the PMO (Pakistan) yesterday (Wednesday),” said Qazi M Khalilullah, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Pakistan government, in Islamabad.


Swarup, too, said that New Delhi had no information about Azhar’s arrest.

Over a phone call
A day ahead of their scheduled meeting to discuss modalities for the “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue,” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistan counterpart A A Chaudhry spoke over phone and mutually agreed to reschedule the meeting to a date in the “very near future,” said Swarup.


When asked as to why talks were deferred even after New Delhi welcomed Islamabad’s action against JeM, the MEA spokesperson said that the foreign secretaries felt more time was required before they could meet “away from the shadow” of the probe into the terror strike.

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