Sartaj Aziz welcome, but talks only on Ufa agenda: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi, Aug 22: India on Saturday lobbed the NSA talks back to Pakistan, saying Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz was welcome to come for the August 23-24 parleys, but he has to stick to the Ufa agenda to discuss only terrorism and the Kashmiri separatists have no place in the dialogue.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, addressing a press conference, said Pakistan only has till Saturday midnight to give its answer to India's response to Aziz's press conference in Islamabad earlier in the day that Kashmir was the "core issue" and he would take it up during talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.

'Aziz welcome, but talks on Ufa agenda'

"Pakistan is saying that Kashmir is the core issue, but that was not said at Ufa. In Ufa, it was decided that all outstanding issues including Kashmir... but first let us discuss terrorism and violence," she said.

"The NSAs will talk on all issues relating to terrorism. Aziz said that he is waiting for my press conference. I am answering -- please keep to the Simla and Ufa agreements signed by both our countries.

"As per the Simla agreement spirit, there can be no third party in talks, and the Hurriyat cannot be included. As per the Ufa spirit, don't increase the agenda. And do come, you are welcome."

Sushma Swaraj denied that India was laying any pre-conditions for the NSA talks, as alleged by Pakistan, and said if Pakistan sticks to its stand of raking up Kashmir at the NSA parleys and Aziz meets the Hurriyat -- "Toh baatchit nahin hogi" (then there will be no talks).

She said that what Aziz was reading at his press conference from the Ufa talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif was the "preamble" of the joint statement signed by both countries.

"He was reading the Ufa preamble -- the operative part is below. He did not read the operative part, which said there will be three meetings -- between the NSAs to discuss terrorism, talks between the DG BSF and Pakistani Rangers, and between the DGMOs."

On Aziz showing a dossier on alleged Indian intelligence involvement in Pakistan, which he said he would present in New York in case the NSA talks are not held, Sushma Swaraj said dossiers were important documents "and one does not just go about presenting dossiers while walking on the street".

She said Pakistan was "running away" from the talks as India caught a Pakistani terrorist alive after the Udhampur attack.

"We have a jinda aadmi (live person) as proof and that is why he is running away. But we are saying 'please come for talks, we will give you proof'. If he gives dossiers, we will give him a jinda aadmi," she said.

Sushma Swaraj said the operative part of the July 10 Ufa talks was that terrorism and talks cannot go together, and that a productive dialogue can be held only in an atmosphere free from terrorism and violence.

She said terrorism and talks were de-linked, and that both sides decided to hold talks separately on border issues and one on peace.

The minister said that after the Ufa talks, there was a lot of criticism of Sharif when he returned to his country, and Pakistan decided to do something to wriggle out of the talks.

Describing India-Pakistan relations as a road "full of potholes, in which the car gets stuck, the tyre gets deflated and there are sudden violent jerks", she said both sides still manage to gather themselves and talk again.

To a question, she said if the NSA talks are not held, then talks can be held again.

"There are no full stops in diplomacy. There are commas and semi colons."


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