India said that a proper atmosphere is a major requisite for prime minister-level talks with Pakistan even as Islamabad expressed keenness on holding such parleys on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid,who had an informal meeting with the Pakistani premier’s key foreign policy aide Sartaj Aziz on Friday night,said India would be willing to hold talks if the atmosphere surrounding it is viable.
“We told him (Aziz) that in view of the wish of the people for positive talks,there has to be a conducive atmosphere. Whenever a high-level talk process is on,the atmosphere should be good,” he told reporters.
Khurshid,here for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit,said,”If there is a lack in intent,there is a need to correct that in order to proceed. But if things are not sorted out in due time,then there will be difficulties that have to be faced.”
Stressing the need for peace along the border,Khurshid said the ceasefire on the Line of Control must be respected.
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“That is also part of the atmosphere. If there is no peace and tranquility on the border and LoC,then all our efforts go waste,to be frank,” he said.
Aziz said he conveyed to Khurshid Pakistan’s disappointment that the bilateral peace process was derailed by the August 6 incident,in which five Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed while on patrol on the LoC.
He said he had good talks with Khurshid and “diplomatic channels will continue to facilitate talks” between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later in September
“Nawaz Sharif invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore and now that he is back,he wants to take things forward from 1999,” Aziz said.
Pakistan has been pushing for a meeting between the Prime Ministers in New York. India has been non-committal on the meeting.
Relations between the two countries soured after Indian soldiers were killed along the LoC. Both sides have accused each other of violating the truce along the LoC.
Referring to the LoC truce,Khurshid said,”That is the most critical confidence building and that is the most critical commitment that has been made by both countries and both have to live up to it,which is that there must be peace on the Line of Control and peace on the border.”
The ceasefire,Khurshid said,is a “basic fundamental ingredient of confidence” between the two countries and the truce and the LoC “must be respected”.
“Of course we talked about what can be done. I have emphasised that the mechanism in place…should be used more effectively. Let us see beyond that how one can examine and how things will shape up. We still have a few days.”
Aziz hoped the “existing mechanism is utilised to the full extent to ensure that the ceasefire is not violated”. He said Pakistan too has suffered in the ceasefire violations.
Quoting UN figures,he said seven Pakistani soldiers had lost their lives along the border.