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India is back to talking tough.

TWO DAYS after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's participation in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony raised hopes for a new beginning in bilateral ties, India and Pakistan were on Wednesday back to their traditional positions on contentious issues like terrorism and the Kashmir dispute.

In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reiterated Modi's contention that bilateral talks could succeed only if terrorism directed against India is stopped. She said India had raised the speedy trial of the Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks with Sharif.

Briefing the media in Islamabad on Sharif's visit, his adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, said Pakistan had a clear stance that long-lasting peace cannot be achieved without the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Sharif had stressed the need for moving forward the dialogue process in light of the Lahore Declaration and for resolving all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, he said.

"When we spoke to Pakistan, we said that we want good relations. But talks can be successful and effective only when terrorism stops first. The Prime Minister said the sound of bombs and blasts stops the sound of talks, it can't be heard," Swaraj told reporters after assuming charge.

"He said it to Nawaz Sharif in these very words -- if bomb blasts stop and we talk, then both sides can hear each other," she added. The Pakistani side said they were working on the trial of the accused in the Mumbai attacks, she said.

Following a meeting between Modi and Sharif in Delhi on Tuesday, the two sides had announced that their Foreign Secre- taries would decide on ways to take forward the bilateral peace process, stalled since January last year.

Despite the raising of contentious issues by both sides, Aziz said Sharif's meeting with Modi was "better than expected". The meeting was not just a photo op and its outcome "proved better than anyone's expectations," he said.

On the issue of the trial of Pakistani suspects for the Mumbai attacks, Aziz said the law would take its course. Aziz said Sharif has expressed a desire to pick up the threads from where they had been left in October 1999, when Sharif was removed in a military coup. "The Lahore Declaration of February 1999 calls for both the governments to intensify their efforts to resolve all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

It also calls on the two governments to refrain from intervention and interfering in each other's internal affairs," he said.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said bilateral talks could succeed only if terrorism directed against India is stoppe

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:May 29, 2014
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