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'Well within right to meet Kashmiri leaders': Pakistan on Modi's remark

Well within right to meet Kashmiri leaders: Pakistan on Modis remark

Islamabad: Rejecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks that Islamabad had "sought to make a spectacle of talks" by holding discussions with separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan's Foreign Office today said it is "well within our right to meet Kashmiris leaders."

Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said that the country has been holding meetings with separatist leaders in the past as well. "This was not the first time. We are well within our right to talk to Kashmiris," she said. Aslam also claimed that "nobody appreciated" India's decision to call off the talks and added that "laying down last minute conditions is not acceptable to us."

PM Modi said on Friday that India was disappointed that Pakistan had "sought to make a spectacle of talks and went ahead with talks with secessionist elements." "We will continue to make efforts to build peaceful, friendly and cooperative ties with Pakistan," the PM said commenting on his government canceling secretary level talks with Pakistan earlier this month.

Laying the ground rules for future talks, the PM asserted that "any meaningful bilateral dialogue necessarily requires an environment that is free from terrorism and violence". Modi recalled that he had a "very good meeting" with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May, 2014, when he attended the swearing-in ceremony of his government in New Delhi. "We together decided that the Foreign Secretaries should meet and explore how to take relations forward," he noted.

India called off the meeting last week after Pakistan's ambassador to India met separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, days before the talks were scheduled. India's foreign secretary was to have held talks with her Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad last Monday, August 25.

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