India Non-Committal On Talks With Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz: Foreign Ministry

New delhi: India on Thursday remained non-committal about holding talks with Pakistan Prime Minister’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz during the Heart of Asia Conference which he will attend in Amritsar next week.

Incidentally, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is ill, will not attend the two-day meet on December 3 and 4.

MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told a weekly media briefing that the programme was in a “fluid state” and he was not in a position to “rule in or rule out anything at this stage. I can only say that as of 24th November nothing has been decided”.

When pressed on the subject, he said, “The programme is still evolving. The associated events connected with the conference are in a process of evolving. At this point, I am not in a position to make any other announcement.”

Mr Swarup reiterated India’s stated position that though the country is for dialogue “talks and terror cannot go hand- in-hand”.

“Our position on it (talks) is very very clear from the beginning. We are for a dialogue with Pakistan. But talks and terror cannot happen together. It is incumbent on Pakistan to create the necessary environment for a conducive bilateral dialogue to happen,” he said and also referred to Ms Swaraj’s address at the UN recently that for talks to take place, Islamabad will have to end terrorism.

Asked whether Ms Swaraj will attend the conference, he said “The External Affairs Minister will not be able to attend.” Ms Swaraj is undergoing treatment for kidney failure. The conference, which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, will be attended by representatives of over 40 countries.