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India to Pak: Ready to talk J&K within bilateral framework

India on Thursday made it clear that it was willing to discuss the issue of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan within the framework of the bilateral agreements of Simla pact and Lahore Declaration.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin was reacting to Pakistan government’s remarks that the Indo- Pak dialogue without discussions on Kashmir was “unacceptable”.

“As regards engagement with Pakistan, we have made it very clear that we will engage in the framework of the Simla agreement and the Lahore Declaration and both these provide for discussing all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. Our view is very clear, a bilateral framework to discuss all outstanding issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

He was asked about the comments by Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz, who has said that Islamabad offered talks to New Delhi in “good faith,” but holding a dialogue without addressing the Kashmir issue was unacceptable to Pakistan.

Aziz was also quoted as saying that Pakistani officials have met with leaders from the Indian portion of Kashmir in the past and New Delhi had not objected until now.

India had called off the talks between Foreign Secretaries slated for August 25, telling Pakistan bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.

India also objected to Pakistan terming the Kashmiri separatists as “stakeholders” in the resolution of Kashmir issue saying that, as per Simla Agreement, it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and any other approach will “not yield results”.

Asked about the BSF chief’s remarks that India has witnessed heaviest ceasefire violations along the International Border since 1971 war, he merely said Indian forces are best equipped to respond to such incidents.

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