Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Back channel talks are on with India: Sartaj Aziz

Written by Pti | Islamabad | Posted: January 4, 2014 3:01 pm

Back channel talks are on with India on Kashmir¿ Sir Creek and Siachen issues,Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Saturday.

However he said that any breakthrough or forward movement on these issues could only be expected after the elections in India.

He said it is Pakistan’s “utmost endeavour” to improve relations with India. Though the composite dialogue is facing delay due to the elections in India but certain groups on trade¿ energy and visa are in negotiations with each other,Aziz told state-run Radio Pakistan.

He said now when India is heading towards elections peace at the Line of Control and continuation of talks is necessary to avoid any tension in bilateral relations.

When asked about Kashmir issue,Aziz said it is a very important issue and its resolution is imperative for improvement in Pakistan-India relations. “Back channel talks are continuing with India on the issues of Kashmir Sir Creek and Siachen,” Aziz said.

He said several countries have realised the importance of peace between the two countries and “are now evincing interest in Kashmir dispute.”

To another question Aziz said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had given invitation to his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan. “Though there is less possibility of his visit but if he wishes to visit Islamabad in the next few weeks¿ we will definitely welcome him,” he said.

Pakistan has appointed its former foreign secretary Shehryar Khan as the man responsible for back-channel talks. His Indian counterpart is India’s ex-envoy to Pakistan S K Lambah.

Prime Minister Singh had dispatched Lambah to covey his wishes soon after Sharif won the May elections. Later in July,Khan visited India and met with Singh and other top officials.

The only public meeting that Lambah and Khan had was in Dubai prior to chalk out a meeting of the two Prime Ministers in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September last year.

However,sources had earlier maintained that back channel talks were on to reduce the tensions between the two countries following escalation of  ceasefire violations at the LoC. Pakistan is keen to restart composite dialogue with India. It was called off after an Indian soldier was decapitated in January last year well inside the Indian territory at the LoC.

“We have a structured dialogue on all outstanding disputes and issues between the two countries. We believe that we should resume as soon as possible. Engagement formally or informally is continuing,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam had said on Friday.

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