Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said that India has “no hesitation to discuss any outstanding issue with Pakistan within the bilateral framework that has been established under the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration”.
Speaking to Japanese journalists ahead of his visit to Japan starting Saturday, Modi said that his government had called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan because, by holding discussions with separatists from Jammu and Kashmir just ahead of the talks, Islamabad had chosen to make a “spectacle” of New Delhi’s efforts at initiating bilateral dialogue.
“I had a very good meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May 2014, when he attended the swearing-in ceremony of my government. We together decided that the foreign secretaries should meet and explore how to take relations forward… We, therefore, were disappointed that Pakistan sought to make a spectacle of these efforts and went ahead with talks with secessionist elements from Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi just prior to the meeting of the foreign secretaries,” Modi told the Japanese journalists.
“We will continue to make efforts to build peaceful, friendly and cooperative ties with Pakistan, but I might add that any meaningful bilateral dialogue necessarily requires an environment that is free from terrorism and violence,” he said.
The foreign secretaries of the two countries were scheduled to meet in Islamabad on August 25. India, however, pulled out on August 18, after Pakistani high commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit held consultations with a delegation of the Hurriyat Conference against the wishes of the Indian government. Basit went ahead with another scheduled meeting with a different set of Hurriyat leaders the next day even after India’s decision to call off the talks.
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During his interaction with the Japanese journalists, Modi also took questions on India’s relations with China. “I am keen to work closely with the Chinese leadership to push the relationship forward and to deal with all issues in our bilateral relations by proceeding from the strategic perspective of our developmental goals and long-term benefits to our peoples. I had a good first meeting with President Xi (Jinping) in July and I am looking forward to welcoming him in India. India, Japan and China, as major countries in Asia, have many common interests and we need to build on them to convert ours into an Asian century by working together,” he said.
Modi recalled his two visits to Japan as chief minister of Gujarat and said that despite being a developed country, Japan was still willing to encourage and support a state from India.
“I am confident that India-Japan relations would strengthen. If India-Japan relations would strengthen further, remain close and open to that extent, it would benefit the Asian countries and the world at large,” he said.
“While Japan is the land of rising sun, India is the land of shining sun,” Modi said.
Later, in a statement on the eve of his visit, Modi said India and Japan would discuss “how to boost our defence and security cooperation, including in defence technology, equipment and industry”, during the trip. “I will try to accelerate progress on the unfinished agenda of projects and initiatives that our two countries have embarked upon,” he said.