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PM walked the extra mile, but Pakistan didn’t: Prasad

Author: Suhasini Haidar
Publication: The Hindu
Date: August 20, 2014
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-walked-the-extra-mile-but-pakistan-didnt-prasad/article6332584.ece?homepage=true

Under criticism from the United States, Jammu and Kashmir political leaders and the Opposition over its decision to cancel talks with Pakistan, the government on Tuesday sought to explain its stance, saying the problem was not the talks themselves, but the sequencing of the talks.

The Centre cancelled the talks as Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit here.

“We have always said that you can change your friends but not your neighbours,” said senior Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“Here the PM walked the extra mile to meet the leader of Pakistan. And in spite of being told it would not be fair, they went ahead,” Mr. Prasad told The Hindu in Patna.

Sources say Foreign Secretaries were due to meet in Islamabad on August 25 not to resume dialogue but to “carry forward the PMs’ directions from their meeting in New Delhi” in May. As a result, the government insists that Jammu and Kashmir was not on the formal agenda, and there was “no need” for High Commissioner Abdul Basit to speak to the Hurriyat leadership at this point. The Hindu has learnt that India had proposed several “stand-alone” initiatives on trade facilitation as well as energy transfers ahead of the meeting between the Foreign Secretaries.

Pakistan spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said “it is a long-standing practice that, prior to Pakistan-India talks, meetings with Kashmiri leaders are held.”


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