India-Pakistan foreign secretary talks were informal: V.K. Singh

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New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan were merely a courtesy meeting — and not an “official dialogue” — where they discussed certain matters, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said on Thursday.

The minister, responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, said: “I would first of all clarify that there was no official dialogue between our foreign secretary and Pakistan’s foreign secretary.”

“The Pakistan foreign secretary was here to attend the Heart of Asia Conference and as an etiquette, there were some talks. But it should not be taken as official dialogue,” he told the Rajya Sabha.

The minister also said that when Pakistan sent a Joint Investigation Team to India to probe the Pathankot airbase terror attack, it was for the first time that the neighbouring country showed “positive attitude”.

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“When the Joint Investigation Team came, it was a cooperative attitude from Pakistan for the first time,” he said.

Singh, however, added that during the “informal” meeting between Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, India asked about the visit of a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team to Pakistan with regard to the Pathankot probe.

He said it was conveyed to the Pakistani side that “they have to look into our NIA visiting Pakistan. He has to go back and take a formal view and convey to us”.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member Majid Memon expressed apprehension that Pakistan “may change” the evidence gathered here, and asked if India has a record of the information provided.

“Their JIT and our NIA had a dialogue at the professional level. Our method of enquiry and theirs is almost the same. They were given only the records we have,” said Singh.

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Congress leader Anand Sharma, meanwhile, asked about the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia, and asked what understanding was reached between them there that prompted Modi to visit Pakistan on Sharif’s birthday on December 25 last year.

“At Ufa, centrality of terrorism emanating from Pakistan or areas controlled by Pakistan was stressed… But after the terror attack in Pathankot, there is considerable stress that has been caused,” he added.

Jaishankar and Chaudhary met here on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference officials meeting.



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