Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

India, Pakistan held NSA-level talks in Thailand in December: MEA

India, Pakistan held NSA-level talks in Thailand in December: MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday acknowledged that the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan held secret talks on cross-border terrorism last month.

"We raised the issue of cross-border terrorism in those talks because our main issue is how to ensure the safety of our region from the scourge of cross-border terrorism".

India has introduced some nuance rephrasing in its lexicon on engaging Pakistan on terror issues. Talks take place at the DGMO level. "Similarly, the NSA-level engagement is part of operational-level talks", Kumar added.

The stated position that "talks and terror" can not go together applies to the dialogue process but that does not close the other mechanisms for contact between the two countries, he said. During the NSA level talks, India reiterated Pakistan that terrorism and talks can not go together and raised the issue of cross-border firing, the MEA said. "We have said terror and talks cannot go together, but talks on terror can definitely go ahead", Kumar said. The report, on December 31, said that while the meeting was held a day after retired Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on Death Row in Pakistan, met his wife and mother in Islamabad, it was "pre-scheduled" and not linked to Pakistan's treatment of Jadhav's family.

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At the political level, India has maintained that there can not be Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with Pakistan, after the Pathankot airbase terror attack.

Past year too, there was no movement on India-Pakistan talks though in December, The Indian Express reported that Doval had met his counterpart in Thailand.

The Jadhav-family meeting became the latest flashpoint in already strained Indo-Pak relations, with Pakistan terming its decision to allow Jadhavs family to travel to Pakistan to meet him as a humanitarian gesture and India accusing it of violating mutual understandings. The MEA official made it clear that these mechanisms are not part of the structured CBD that was announced between the two countries during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Islamabad in 2015. That was followed, within days, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprise stopover in Lahore, to wish Sharif on his birthday on December 25.

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