PM Modi talks Pak with Xi Jinping, links peace bid to ending terror

Modi conveyed this during a bilateral with President Xi at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on Friday.

New Delhi/Bishkek: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told Chinese President Xi Jinping that Pakistan “needs to create an atmosphere free of (cross-border) terrorism” before New Delhi can hold bilateral talks with Islamabad on various issues, adding that Pakistan has so far failed to do so.

Mr Modi also spoke about his efforts towards peace with Pakistan which he said had been “derailed”, an obvious reference to his impromptu visit to Lahore in December 2015, which was followed by the Pathankot terror attack in January 2016.

Mr Modi conveyed this during a bilateral with President Xi at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on Friday. At about the same time, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan who is also attending the summit told a Russian news agency that Pakistan’s relationship with India is probably at its “lowest point”, while expressing hope that Mr Modi will use his “big mandate” to resolve all differences, including the Kashmir issue. He added that Pakistan was open for “any kind of mediation”, something which India has always opposed.

Briefing reporters in Bishkek, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said, “There was a very brief discussion on Pakistan... PM (Modi) said we (India) have a consistent position with respect to Pakistan. We (India and Pakistan) discuss all issues through a bilateral mechanism and we look for peaceful settlement through negotiations. We are committed to this process. PM (Modi) recalled that he
has made efforts in this regard and these efforts have been derailed.”

Mr Gokhale said PM Modi informed President Xi that Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terrorism. And at this stage we did not see this as happening.

“We expect Pakistan to take concrete action in the areas of concern that we have flagged,” Mr Gokhale quoted Mr Modi as having said at the bilateral.

Both PM Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan are expected to be seated along with other leaders in the same room at the summit on Friday. Though India has made it clear that there would be no separate bilateral meeting between the two leaders, it remains to be seen whether there is at least an exchange of pleasantries or even a handshake between the two PMs on Friday. New Delhi’s stand continues to be frosty in view of Pakistan’s continued support towards cross-border terrorism.

Meanwhile, at the over 20-minute bilateral meeting between Mr Modi and Mr Xi, the Prime Minister said “strategic communication” between India and China have “improved” at all levels and pointed to China’s recent decision to lift its earlier objections to listing by the UN of Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

It was also confirmed that President Xi would visit India later this year for the second informal summit between the two leaders, after the first such summit last year at Wuhan in China. Mr Gokhale told reporters that the date and venue of the summit in India this year had not yet been finalised.

Talking about the bilateral, Mr Gokhale said, “The atmosphere was very positive. The Wuhan Spirit was very much in evidence. ... There was also a brief discussion on the (Sino-Indian) boundary issue. The two leaders have asked the Special Representatives to meet and carry forward the discussion.”

Mr Modi also held a separate bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin who invited the Prime Minister to be the main guest at the Eastern Economic Forum at Vladivostok in early September this year, following which PM Modi “warmly accepted” the invitation.

This will also be followed by the India-Russia annual bilateral summit then. Discussions also took place between PM Modi and President Putin on defence-related issues.

India “thanked” Russia for the project to manufacture the AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles in Amethi (UP), a project which was “set up in record time”.

Foreign secretary Gokhale said there would be more such occasions where Russian technology and manufacturing would be moved to India. While the S-400 missile deal with Russia was apparently not discussed specifically, New Delhi is certain to go ahead with it despite objections from the US.

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