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Track II fine, but no change in Pakistan talks stand: Govt | India News

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NEW DELHI: The government described Thursday the resumption of Neemrana Track II Dialogue with Pakistan as a part of the “normal process” of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. While the foreign ministry remained quiet on whether or not the government approved the dialogue, it said there’s no change in India’s position that terror and talks can’t go together.

TOI had first reported on Tuesday that the track II dialogue, which gets its name from the Neemrana fort in Rajasthan where it was first held in 1991-1992, had been revived by India and Pakistan. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said functional exchanges between the two sides have continued and is part of the “normal process” between the two countries.

“This is a meeting between two civil societies, this is a meeting which is part of people-to-people exchange… There is nothing new in it,” he told reporters, responding to questions on the issue. The original Track II initiative — the Neemrana Dialogue — received a fresh start with the visit of the group of experts to Islamabad recently. The Indian side was led by former foreign ministry secretary Vivek Katju, while the Pakistani side included former minister Javed Jabbar, among others.

Asked whether the dialogue had the backing of the ministry, Kumar did not give a direct reply, saying it was part of the normal process. He, however, said there was no change in India’s “clear and consistent” policy towards Pakistan.

“There is no dilution in our position that talks and terror cannot go together,” he said. Sources in Islamabad, according to PTI, said that experts from two sides discussed a number of issues, including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, terrorism, tensions along the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir and the regional situation. They said that the two sides will present their proposals to their government for consideration.

The Neemrana Dialogue was launched in early 1990s and included influential former diplomats, military veterans and academics, who had the unofficial backing from the foreign ministries of the two countries. The ties between India and Pakistan hit a low after Pakistan-based terror groups carried out a series of attacks in India in 2016. India has been maintaining that it will not engage in talks with Pakistan unless it stops crossborder terrorism.

Updated: May 3, 2018 — 8:04 pm

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