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India Rules Out Resumption of Peace Dialogue With Pakistan

By Anjana Pasricha
New Delhi
17 July 2009

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ruled out resumption of formal peace talks with Pakistan until Islamabad clamps down on terrorist groups. His clarification came in the wake of opposition protests to a joint statement by India and Pakistan which said dialogue is the only way forward for the two countries.

A day after a joint statement by India and Pakistan said that action on combating terrorism should not be linked to broader peace talks, Indian Prime Minister told parliament Friday that New Delhi is not resuming a dialogue with Pakistan until it takes action to end cross border terrorism.

"It has been and it remains our consistent position that the starting point of any new full dialogue with Pakistan will be fulfillment of their commitment in letter and spirit not to allow their territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India," he said.

The Indian leader's clarification came after opposition members stridently objected to the joint statement issued in Egypt on Thursday where the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers met on the sidelines of a summit of the non aligned movement.

The statement had said that dialogue is the only way forward. This was interpreted in India as a retreat by the government from its tough position that it would not resume stalled peace talks with Islamabad until Pakistan took action against the perpetrators of last year's terror attacks in Mumbai. New Delhi blames an Islamist terror group based in Pakistan for the attacks, which killed more than 160 people.

Prime Minister Singh assured parliament that India's position has not changed.

"Whether, when and in what form we broaden the dialogue will depend on future developments," he said. "For the present we have agreed that the foreign secretaries meet as often as necessary."

However, Mr. Singh said that Pakistan has extended assurances that it is "doing everything in its power to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice." He said the two countries will also increase information and communication sharing on terror threats, and cooperate in ending terrorism.

The meeting in Egypt between the Indian and Pakistani leaders this week had raised hopes that they may return to the negotiating table. Analysts say although the two countries may not resume full scale dialogue for the time being, the meeting marks a significant step forward in mending ties which were seriously strained following the Mumbai attacks.

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