Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has underscored his readiness to restart bilateral talks with nuclear rival Pakistan, but insisted that such negotiations must be held “without a shadow of terrorism”.
“I want to hold bilateral talks to improve friendship and cooperation in all seriousness and in an atmosphere of peace, without a shadow of terrorism,” Modi told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday in his first address to the world body since he was elected as India’s prime minister in May.
However, Modi questioned his counterpart, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for highlighting the longstanding Kashmir dispute in his own UN speech a day earlier. “By raising this, I don’t know how serious our effort will be, and some people are doubtful,” Modi said.
“Instead, today we should be thinking about the victims of floods on Jammu and Kashmir,” the prime minister added, using the full name of the Indian state.
Pakistan’s Sharif criticised India’s recent withdrawal from talks as a “missed opportunity”, during his UN General Assembly address on Friday.
Modi had invited Sharif to his inauguration but India in August withdrew from planned talks between their foreign secretaries as Pakistan wanted to hold consultations with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the talks.
Modi is due to have private meetings with the prime ministers of Nepal and Bangladesh and the president of Sri Lanka on Saturday in New York, but no meetings are planned with Sharif or other Pakistani officials, according to the Indian delegation.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir since independence in 1947.