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India to address concerns on terrorism at foreign secretary talks

India to address concerns on terrorism at foreign secretary talks

New Delhi: Ahead of the much-awaited India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level talks in Islamabad Aug 25, India Wednesday said it will address its concerns on terrorism "with all means available".

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, during a press briefing here, also hit back at Pakistani criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing Pakistan of waging a proxy war against India.

He said Modi was merely articulating India's "core concerns about relations with" Pakistan over terrorism emanating from its soil.

India and Pakistan Wednesday exchanged some sharp words over Prime Minister Modi's statement with the Pakistan foreign office terming Modi's statement as "most unfortunate".

On the foreign secretary-level talks, the spokesperson said the two top officials are "meeting in the context of directives provided by the prime ministers to be in touch and look at the way forward in bilateral India-Pakistan relations".

He said the talks stems from the initiative of Modi when he invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to his swearing in ceremony in Delhi in May.

"India will in any case address its concerns on terrorism with all means that are available to us, our tool kit is not restricted in any manner," Akbaruddin added.

On the Pakistani criticism of Modi's statement, he said: "Terrorism for us is a real and present danger. The prime minister was articulating what is for us a core concern in relations with Pakistan. Mere denials of selective approaches towards terrorism is not going to drive away our concerns."

"These stem from the fact that some of the worst terrorist attacks in Indian owe their genesis to areas either in Pakistan control or in Pakistan," he said, and cited the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament by Pakistani militants and the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 10 Pakistani terrorists attacked India's commercial capital.

"The attack on our parliament, which is one of the most sacred institutions in India, and the heinous killings of Indians and 16 other nationalities in Mumbai cannot be wished away. These are matters of present and real concern to us and the prime minister was articulating our core concerns in relations with Pakistan," he said.

Earlier, Pakistani Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said the statements by Modi emanating "at the highest political level were "most unfortunate".

She said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to India in May for Modi's swearing-in was in the spirit of wanting to establish good neighbourly relations with India.

The visit "generated a fresh momentum in the bilateral relationship" and "it would be in the larger interest of the regional peace that instead of engaging in a blame game, the two countries should focus on resolving all issues through dialogue and work together to promote friendly and cooperative relations".

She termed Modi's statements as "repeating the baseless rhetoric against Pakistan regarding terrorism" and recalled that Pakistan has consistently condemned terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations.

Modi, while addressing Indian armed forces personnel in Leh, Tuesday said Pakistan was indulging in a proxy war killing innocent people in India as it has lost the power to fight a conventional war.

"The neighbouring country has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism. Indian armed forces are suffering more casualties from terrorism than from war," Modi said.

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