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Pakistan ready to hold talks with India: Nawaz

26 November, 2014

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KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that Pakistan was  ready to hold talks with India but it was for New Delhi to take the initiative for resumption of talks.

"Now the ball is in India's court," he said while referring to New Delhi's unilateral decision to call off foreign secretary-level talks which were due in August this year.

Talking to reporters aboard his flight from Islamabad to Kathmandu, Mr Sharif said the decision to hold foreign secretary-level talks had been taken by both the prime ministers and they "should not have been cancelled unilaterally".

The prime minister will attend the 18th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

Prime ministers Sharif and Narendra Modi had decided during the former's visit to India to attend the latter's inauguration that foreign secretary-level talks should be resumed.

When asked about chances of resumption of talks, Mr Sharif said the question better be put to India in view of its one-sided decision. Pakistan was disappointed by the decision and now India should take the initiative for resumption of the talks, he said.

The prime minister stressed the need for strengthening Saarc as an effective organisation and harnessing its potential to the fullest. Saarc, he said, would complete 30 years of its establishment, but it was far behind other regional forums.

He said regional conflicts were the main impediment to the strengthening of Saarc. But he said Pakistan would continue playing its role in making Saarc an effective body.

Later, the prime minister received a red-carpet wel­come on his arrival at the Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Int­ernational Airport. Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Bam Dev Gautam received him. A contingent of the Nepalese armed forces presented a salute to him.

Mr Sharif plans to share with regional leaders his desire for a "peaceful neighbourhood" where only meaningful cooperation can come up to the expectations of 1.5 billion people in the region.

A Foreign Office official said Pakistan firmly belie­ved that the full potential of Saarc could only be fully realised if differences, particularly the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, were resolved peacefully through a sustained dialogue process.

Meanwhile, addressing a ministerial meeting of the Saarc countries on Tuesday, Adviser to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that Saarc must be responsive to the aspirations of its people to become a viable regional organisation.

He emphasised that regi­onal cooperation strategy must be formulated and pursued with political will and commitment of member states.

The ministerial meeting took stock of Saarc's progress, discussed the recommendations made by the standing committee which had met on Nov 23-24, and took a number of decisions for the strengthe­ning of the Saarc processes.

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