Antony, Khurshid brief Cabinet on LoC situation

NEW DELHI, Jan 17:
Pakistan’s proposal for talks between Foreign Ministers to ease Indo-Pak tensions received a lukewarm response with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid saying discussion at their level cannot be done in a rush.
A day after Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar offered to hold “discussion and dialogue” to ease tensions between the two countries along the Line of Control (LoC), Khurshid said here that direct talks between ministers do not happen in a rush.
In a statement issued in Islamabad last night, Khar had said “…It is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to the LoC with a view to reinforcing respect for the ceasefire, may be at the level of the Foreign Ministers, to sort out things.”
On what will be India’s response in view of Khar’s proposal, Khurshid said “let us not rush into the matter and (let us) move step by step” while noting that these issues need to be analysed properly.
“These are very important areas in which thoughtful analysis is done and appropriately you are told what is to be said. So, let’s not rush into anything,” Khurshid added.
Meanwhile, Khurshid and Defence Minister A K Antony briefed the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, on the situation arising out of the January 8 incident in which two Indian soldiers were killed, one of them beheaded by Pakistani troops.
The External Affairs Minister is also understood to have told the Cabinet meeting that Pakistan has indicated readiness for bilateral talks instead of its earlier suggestion for a UN probe into the incident.
Khurshid also welcomed the de-escalation of the tension triggered by last week’s brutal killing of two Indian soldiers yesterday after the talks between the top military commanders of India and Pakistan.
Khar’s offer to hold “discussion and dialogue” with Khurshid to resolve the crisis at the LoC came a day after she accused India of engaging in “war-mongering” in the aftermath of clashes and killing of two Indian soldiers at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, which prompted the Indian Prime Minister to issue a stern comment that there “cannot be business as usual with Pakistan.”
Observing that “rhetoric and ratcheting up of tensions is certainly counter-productive”, Khar said “instead of issuing belligerent statements by the military and political leaders from across the border and ratcheting up tension, it is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to the LoC…”.
Antony said tensions have eased on the LoC since the talks between the Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan yesterday.
He is learnt to have told the meeting that the ceasefire has been holding since yesterday and there has been de-escalation of tensions.
The DGMO’s of India and Pakistan had yesterday agreed not to allow escalation of tensions along the LoC.
Pakistan’s DGMO conveyed that orders have been passed to the troops to strictly observe the ceasefire and exercise restraint, according to the Army Headquarters.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Annual Partnership Summit of nearly 60 countries including Pakistan in Agra from January 27, India today said there is no bilateral meeting scheduled between Indo-Pak Commerce Ministers.
“There was no scheduled meeting,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said when asked whether there was any scheduled bilateral meeting with his Pakistani counterpart on the margins of the three-day summit.
Pakistan Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Commerce Secretary Munir Qureshi have confirmed their participation in the Summit but significantly, Fahim is not having any bilaterals with Sharma.
This gave rise to reports that the recent tension along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir was the reason for not having any bilateral meeting between the ministers of India and Pakistan.
The Summit is being organised by CII, Commerce and Industry Ministry and Uttar Pradesh government. (PTI)

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