Window for talks with Pak open: Sushma Swaraj


External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said the “warmth and ease” in the relationship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif can help solve complex issues between the two countries.
She asserted that ‘terror and talks’ cannot go together, but stressed the window of dialogue is still open, with her statements such as Pakistan has not refused to allow Indian investigators to visit that country to probe attack on Pathankot air base in January.
The minister, addressing her annual press conference, said India wants to resolve all vexed issues with Pakistan through talks. Swaraj said the government was pursuing a three-point formula to deal with Islamabad, the focus of which is that talks cannot go on if Pakistan does not take action to contain terror.
“First, we want to solve every issue through talks. Second, talks will be between India and Pakistan and no third country or party will take part. Third, terror and talks will not go hand-in-hand,” she said.
Swaraj admitted that there have been complex issues between the two countries and it would not be practical to expect their resolution soon.
“After the Pathankot attack, there were expectations from government and people that there should be some concrete steps from their side. This expectation is not unreasonable. So we are waiting for concrete steps from their side,” she said. The minister said Pakistan has not refused to allow a team of NIA to visit that country to carry forward the probe into the Pathankot attack and that it is just seeking “more time” to examine the evidence.
A five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan had visited India between March 27 and 31 to collect evidence with regard to the attack. India has been maintaining that since JIT’s visit was on a reciprocal basis, the NIA team investigating the case would like to visit Pakistan.
Swaraj said the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad had met the authorities on the issue twice. “They said they are analysing (the evidence). They have not refused (to allow NIA to visit). They just said they want more time.”
On the issue of refugees, the external affairs minister said “our policy is to give refuge for persecuted minorities”, not just Hindus, but from other religions too.
When asked about the extradition of Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi, she said a request will be forwarded to UK once it is received from the Enforcement Directorate. Answering a separate question, she said India’s high commissioner to Britain, Navtej Sarna, was not at fault for the presence of Mallya at a book release function in London.
She said, “It is true that we have enhanced engagement with the US now. But that does not impact our relations with Russia or China. Nor the growing Indo-US relations will put at stake our national interest.”
The minister said she has no proof to suggest that the 39 Indians who were held hostage in Mosul in Iraq have died. She said many sources have confirmed that they are alive.

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