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Talks turn into verbal duel

india Updated: Jul 16, 2010 23:18 IST

The last act of the failed Indo-Pak meeting was a slanging match between the two foreign ministers.

On his arrival in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna had to deny claims by Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi that he was constantly on the phone, receiving directions from New Delhi, during the negotiations.

Even before Krishna had left Pakistan, Qureshi said in a press conference that the Indian team had been "prepared" for the talks. He disparaged Krishna's negotiating style, saying the latter had kept stepping out to "attend phone calls" and "receiving foreign policy directions from New Delhi repeatedly during our meeting".

But his principal criticism was that while he had been prepared to negotiate with "full mandate", the Indian minister did not seem to have any. Krishna is the principal for giving direction to foreign policy, so why were directions being sent repeatedly from Delhi?

Krishna said these were "extraordinary statements". He said he had been completely "cut off" from India and had not used a phone during the talks.

"I did not talk to anybody. The mandate given to me was so precise and clear that I did not need any additional instructions from New Delhi," he said.

In any case, Krishna added, there was nothing wrong in a minister consulting "with his base, with the political leadership and governmental leadership" during negotiations.

Krishna and Indian officials refuted claims by Qureshi that there was "no seriousness from the Indian side for resumption of the dialogue process".

They also said talk of ill preparation from the Indian side could not have been further from the truth. New Delhi had worked on small confidence building measures along with Islamabad.

Qureshi had pulled out a complete surprise timetable for fixing all bilateral issues in a matter of months, without any warning or preparation.

Krishna did not make any personal comments about Qureshi, addressing only his charges. Indian officials described Qureshi's comments as "not normal diplomatic behaviour, a school of Pakistani diplomatic behaviour we do not subscribe to".