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Dialogue with Pakistan on principles of civilised behaviour: Sonia

Agencies  Jaipur, January 18, 2013
First Published: 19:37 IST(18/1/2013) | Last Updated: 19:43 IST(18/1/2013)

With beheading of an Indian jawan clearly weighing on her mind, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday said India's dialogue with immediate neighbours must be based on accepted principles of civilised behaviour, in an apparent reference to Pakistan which has proposed talks between the foreign ministers.

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"Better and closer relations with our immediate neighbours will not only make for regional peace - they will also have a positive impact on some of our own border states.

"However, let us be clear. Our dialogue must be based on accepted principles of civilised behaviour. We will never compromise on our vigil and preparedness to deal with terrorism and threats on our borders," she said in her address at Congress Chintan Shivir in Jaipur.

Her remarks came as external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, speaking on the sidelines of the Congress meet, noted the "positive indications" from Pakistani side and said India will give an "appropriate" response if Islamabad makes a formal proposal for talks between the foreign ministers.

He was asked by reporters on the offer of Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar for discussions following tension at Line of Control (LoC) in the wake of beheading of Indian soldier by Pakistani troops on January 8.

The two-day Chintan Shivir of the Congress is being attended by top brass of the party including the Prime Minister, and the issue of Pakistan is expected to come up during discussions scheduled on the topic of India and the world.

Gandhi said that India's foreign policy has always had a vision of the country occupying its rightful place and exercising its unique influence in world affairs.

"That place and that influence will be significantly enhanced by successfully overcoming poverty, improving our secular values, strengthening our democratic institutions and engaging constructively with the international community," she said.

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