Exclusive: At Idea Exchange, Pak High Commissioner Salman Bashir says UN mission played 'important role'

FP

India Tuesday declined Pakistan's offer for talks to resolve tensions that flared after two Indian soldiers were killed on the Line of Control this month, a day after the Pakistani foreign ministry formally conveyed its offer for a meeting to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

The two countries also sparred over involving the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in their latest face-off which has hurt some of the diplomatic gains made in recent years.

"The situation had, unfortunately, because of certain unacceptable incidents, come under a severe question mark. The atmospherics were deteriorating considerably," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said when asked about the talks offer.

"Therefore, it was important for us that we first ensure that the atmospherics return to normal or near normal, that the expectation that we have in context of the unfortunate incidents that took place be honoured and responded to, and that in totality the situation becomes more amenable and acceptable in terms of public perceptions and the general support that one needs to build when one takes these strong decisions and important decisions," he said.

"Only then we will be able to take these decisions. We would advisedly not want to do anything in haste that would not lead to a constructive and creative outcome. So, it is a situation in which we have to be careful. We have to watch and analyse before we take any steps in the direction that would be a meaningful one," the minister said.

Sources said that the formal communication from Islamabad was a copy of the January 16 media statement by Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar proposing talks. New Delhi, which had last week said that the offer needed to come through diplomatic channels and not the media, was surprised that a copy of Khar's same media statement was forwarded Monday as it was again not a regular format of diplomatic communication.

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