India to wait and watch after Pak talks offer

FP

A day after Pakistan proposed foreign minister-level talks to resolve the heightened tension along the Line of Control (LoC) following the beheading of an Indian soldier, India Thursday adopted a wait-and-watch strategy, saying it would take a decision after observing Islamabad whether stuck to its promise to respect the ceasefire.

While Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar reached out late on Wednesday by offering a discussion on "all concerns related to the LoC", a clear climbdown from the earlier position that called for UN intervention, her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid made it clear that India would not take a hasty decision but would go by actions on the ground.

"Let us not rush into the matter. (We should) move step by step," Khurshid said after a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday. The government also felt it could not respond to Khar's offer, which came through the media.

Defence Minister A K Antony informed the cabinet that the ceasefire had held since Wednesday when the DGMOs of the two countries spoke and agreed not to escalate the matter. He is learnt to have said that there was a general reduction in tensions along the LoC, and shared the assessment of the Army that a close watch needed to be maintained.

The meeting is believed to have concluded with the agreement to adopt a wait-and-watch policy and observe actions on the LoC in the coming days.

Antony also informed the cabinet that passions have been running high among Indian troops after the beheading. The cabinet was also told that there was no indication that the threat of cross-border firing would spread from Mendhar that has seen the latest spate of violence.

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