India refutes claims of having agreed to hold talks with Pakistan

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NEW DELHI: India on Thursday rejected claims of having responded to Islamabad’s call for dialogue and clarified that New Delhi seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan.

“As per the established diplomatic practice, PM and EAM have responded to the congratulatory messages received from their counterparts in Pakistan. In their messages, they have highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan,” spokesperson for Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Raveesh Kumar, said.

Kumar was responding to queries regarding replies to congratulatory messages by Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

This comes after, Pakistan media, citing diplomatic sources, reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had, in reply to congratulatory messages, expressed willingness to hold talks with the neighbouring country.

Kumar asserted that in their responses to the congratulatory messages received from Islamabad, Modi and Jaishankar had highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan.

The spokesperson added that PM Modi’s message stressed on the importance of building an “environment of trust, free of terror, violence, and hostility”, while the EAM ” emphasized the need for an “atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence”.

Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated after the Pulwama terror attack, where India lost over 40 CRPF personnel. Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, which saw the entire world community throwing its weight behind India in its fight against terrorism.

India has maintained its stance that Pakistan, in order to resume talks, needs to create a terror-free atmosphere.

Earlier, Dawn, referring the Foreign Office in Islamabad reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar have replied to letters by their Pakistani counterparts. Report added that a source in the Foreign Office on Thursday, adding that the officials have “responded positively” to Pakistan’s offer for talks

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a letter written to felicitate Modi on assuming office for a second term, had renewed Pakistan’s offer to hold dialogue with India to resolve contentious issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and terrorism, to restore peace in the region, and address the problems confronting the people of the two countries.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had also written a letter to the newly appointed Jaishankar and congratulated him on assuming office.

According to the Foreign Office source on Thursday, the letters were received by Pakistan through diplomatic channels on Tuesday. In their response, Modi and Jaishankar wrote about comprehensive and fresh talks between India and Pakistan. They said that India desires normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan, adding that it has always preferred progress and peace of the people.