Kashmir cannot be precondition for India-Pakistan talks: UK

Islamabad: Kashmir issue should not be a pre-condition for resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said.

Hammond, who is on a two-day visit to Islamabad, on Tuesday urged both the countries not to provide space to non-state actors, militants and terrorists to derail the talks process, Dawn online reported.

Hammond made the remarks in a meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz. He also met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif. Addressing a joint news conference with Aziz, Hammond said that India-Pakistan dialogue is essential for long-term economic development, peace and security in the region.

“I must appreciate the beginning of investigation by Pakistan into the Pathankot attack,” Hammond said. He also appreciated Islamabad for its resilience and resolve against terrorism, and said that days ahead for Pakistan would be safer and stable.

During the talks, Britain and Pakistan also reviewed the security situation in Afghanistan, including the reconciliation process.

“Terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan is a mutual problem which needs to be tackled jointly,” Hammond said. He said there is a trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which could be overcome when Islamabad and Kabul take steps to tighten space for militants.

“Under the strategic dialogue we have five strands of cooperation: trade and business relations, financial and development cooperation, education and health, consultations on defence and security, and cultural cooperation,” Aziz said.

“In 2014 we prepared roadmaps and targets for each strand of cooperation to provide guidance to the concerned ministries and organisations for implementation,” he added.