New Delhi: India today said that the Kashmir issue can only be discussed under the framework for dialogue agreed with Pakistan even as it remained non-committal about any meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of the upcoming SAARC meet in Nepal.
Reacting to Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif’s request to US President Barack Obama to take up the Kashmir issue with the Indian leadership during his visit to India in January next year, the External Affairs Ministry said that “there is a simple two-way street to promote peaceful” ties between the two neighbours.
“We are for cooperative and peaceful ties with Pakistan.
“The framework for achieving those cooperative and peaceful ties is already specified and agreed to between our two countries as part of the Simla Agreement and reiterated much later during the Lahore declaration between (former) Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sharif,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
“There is a simple two-way street to promote peaceful, cooperative ties between India and Pakistan and that is meaningful bilateral dialogue.
“Any deviation from this path is not going to lead us to a common destination,” he added.
Sharif had on Friday asked Obama to take up the Kashmir issue with the Modi government when he travels to India in January next year to be the chief guest for the Republic Day celebration.
Asked if Modi and Sharif will hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, Akbaruddin remained non-committal, saying, “The Prime Minister’s intention is to have meaningful dialogue with as many of our South Asian colleagues as possible. This would mean taking into account all aspects of our relationship.”
Akbaruddin said that it was a “work in progress” in terms of scheduling, other leaders’ priorities and India’s intent on having meaningful dialogue.
“At this stage, the scheduling work is in progress, taking into account the schedules of various leaders, priorities and intention to have meaningful dialogue of our leaders,” he said.
He stressed that scheduling is done “brick by brick”, adding, “Let me assure you that there will be plenty of it. There will be substantive meetings and we will let you know once the entire architecture is ready.”
Meanwhile, replying to a question on whether Pakistan had sought a meeting with Modi, Akbaruddin said he was not aware of any such move.
Modi will leave for Kathmandu on November 25 to attend the two-day SAARC summit on November 26 and 27.