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Modi wants peace talks with Pakistan, but on condition: report

Narendra Modi

WASHINGTON: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is willing to hold peace talks with Pakistan but terms security steps as a prerequisite for a resumption of bilateral ties, according to senior Trump administration official.

A report in the Times of India cites a senior US official who quoted Modi as saying that he could not go for efforts for peace with Pakistan in a way that “cuts his own security”.

Ahead of a secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s maiden visit to India and Pakistan next week, the official, with an insight into the administration’s policy over South Asia, was responding to questions on what India could do to bring peace and stability in the region, in particular, reference to Pakistan.

“Prime Minister Modi wants peace in the region, but he can’t pursue peace (with Pakistan) in a way that cuts against his own security. So that (having peace talks with Pakistan) is up to his judgment,” the official, requesting anonymity, said.

“We want India and Pakistan to talk. We think that is so important for them to talk and to build confidence and to get on a path to regional security and stability which we know would bring both countries to unprecedented levels of prosperity,” he said.

Noting that South Asia and the bridge in central Asia is one of the least economically integrated areas of the world, he said that there is tremendous potential to be unleashed.

“And what we hope is that the dialogue, continued dialogue, continued efforts to generate a higher degree of understanding to convince those in Pakistan and that it is really in their interest to build confidence to open commerce and to achieve the kind of peace that would lead to prosperity,” the official said.

Top Trump advisors due in Pakistan

US President Donald Trump will dispatch his top diplomatic and military advisors to Pakistan in just a few days.

Weeks after Trump angrily accused Islamabad of providing safe haven to “agents of chaos,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to depart for Pakistan later this month.

He will be followed by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, according to reports.

Pakistan takes a firm stand

Visiting Washington, Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif appeared unwavering.

He lashed out at “hollow allegations” about Pakistan harboring terrorists as “not acceptable.”

“That is not the way you talk to 70-year-old friends,” Asif said bitterly.

“Instead of accusations and threats we should cooperate with each other for the peace in the region,” he added in confirming Tillerson’s visit.

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