New Delhi claims it did not set any new conditions, and was only insisting on pre-approved agenda.
Pakistan late on Saturday said it could not accept India’s “preconditions” for high-level talks, effectively cancelling a planned meeting between the two countries’ national security advisors.
New Delhi had given Islamabad until midnight to agree to restrict the talks between the rivals to militancy alone after a row over Pakistan’s plan to meet with Kashmiri separatist leaders and desire to broaden the scope of the talks.
India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters on Saturday that Pakistan had until “tonight” to agree to an agenda that was restricted to discussions of “terror, and terror only.” Asked what would happen if Pakistan did not agree to India’s demands regarding the agenda of the talks which had been due to take place Sunday in New Delhi, Swaraj replied: “Then talks won’t happen.”
In response to Swaraj’s comments, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said “the scheduled NSA level talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India.”
“We have come to the conclusion that the proposed NSA level talks between the two countries would not serve any purpose, if conducted on the basis of the two conditions laid down by the minister,” it said in a statement.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted that “Pakistan’s decision is unfortunate. India did not set any preconditions.”
Swaraj had said India was not setting “preconditions for talks but only insisting on what was agreed to as agenda by both countries’ leaders for the NSAs’ meet,” referring to a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city of Ufa last month.
Swaraj’s remarks came just hours after Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz insisted he was ready to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, despite India’s foreign ministry saying it would be inappropriate for the Pakistani diplomat to also meet with the Hurriyat separatist movement while in the Indian capital.
India cancelled talks with Pakistan last year between the two countries’ foreign secretaries, outraged over a similar meeting that took place, a move that set back already tense relations between the neighbors.
“On my part, I am still prepared to go to New Delhi for NSA talks without any preconditions,” Aziz said, accusing the Indian media of creating a controversy out of nothing.
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region since both gained independence in 1947, and it remains a major source of tension. But the hour-long talks between Modi and Sharif in Ufa last month had been seen as a new thaw in ties between the countries.
The leaders agreed then that their top security officials would meet to “discuss all issues connected to terrorism,” in a resumption of talks between their officials.