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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Too early to have normal Pak ties, says Antony

Rahul Singh, Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 23, 2013
First Published: 19:48 IST(23/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:41 IST(24/1/2013)

Bilateral ties with Pakistan continue to remain fragile.

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Defence minister AK Antony on Wednesday said it was too early to speak about “normalisation of relations” with Islamabad, following the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control on January 8.

Antony said the talks between the two directors general of military operations (DGMOs) last week had reduced border tension, but the government would not take any hasty decisions to normalise relations with Pakistan.

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid had said on Monday that India would take one step at a time to improve ties with Pakistan, indicating a cautious stand in engaging the neighbour.

Antony said, “Tension along the LoC has reduced after the DGMOs spoke, but I cannot set a timeline for normalising the atmosphere.”

Antony’s comments come a week after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared there couldn’t be business as usual with the neighbour and army chief General Bikram Singh warned that his force reserved the right to retaliate at a time and place of its choosing.

India toughened its stance sharply against Pakistan last week, suspending an easier visa regime for visitors from across the border and asking their hockey players to leave the country.

Antony said, “Infiltration attempts are going on even in extreme winters…if this is the case now, what will the position be in summers? We have to cross our fingers.” The minister added that Pakistan had made several assurances to India but it remained to be seen “how these assurances translate into action.”

The comments also come on the heels of a verbal duel between India and Pakistan over the presence of the UN Military Observers Group at the LoC.

At a time when the most crucial confidence building measure between the two countries - the November 2003 ceasefire - has come under strain, the fate of other CBMs such as cross-border trade, travel and sports hangs in the balance.

Secretary-level talks postponed

New Delhi: In a setback to the India-Pakistan dialogue process, the water resources secretary-level talks between the two countries have been postponed at New Delhi’s insistence.

This was the first secretary-level talks, which would have taken place after the flare-up on the LoC. However, officials said the talks have been postponed as the Indian water resources secretary is set to retire on January 31. The two-day talks were to be held in Islamabad in January-end.


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