Sartaj Aziz confirms he will attend NSA talks in India


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 Islamabad/New Delhi: Ending the suspense, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz  confirmed on Thursday that he will visit India on August 23 for talks with his Indian counterpart  Ajit Doval.

“I can confirm I will proceed to India on August 23 for the NSA talks,” Aziz said while responding to  a question at a joint press conference with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad  Zarif.

The NSA level talks are part of the agreement arrived at between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and  his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during their July 10 meeting in Ufa, Russia.

The NSA talks are mandated to “discuss all issues connected to terrorism”.

“Although the security talks are not the revival of the Composite Dialogue, the meeting would be ‘ice-breaking’ as we will hold discussions on some important issues,” Aziz said.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif believes that dialogue is the only option to peacefully resolve issues,” he added.

India had proposed August 23-24 for the NSA talks about a month ago, but Pakistan declined to confirm the dates.

Escalating tensions between the two neighbors since the Ufa meeting had put a big question mark on the talks.

The Gurdaspur and Udhampur terror attacks by suspected Pakistani terrorists added to the heightened tension.

Last week, India decided to boycott a Commonwealth parliamentary meeting in Islamabad in protest against the Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker not being invited.

Pakistan has invited the speakers of all the Indian states barring Jammu and Kashmir, citing it as disputed territory.

Pakistan has denied any hand in the July 27 Gurdaspur attack in which three armed terrorists sneaked across the border and killed seven people and also laid siege to the Dinanagar police station. The three terrorists were killed after an 11-hour gunfight.

On Aug 5, a Pakistani terrorist was killed and another caught alive after the two ambushed a Border Security Force vehicle in Udhampur in Jammu region and killed two security personnel.

Pakistani authorities have denied that the nabbed man, Usman, is from their country.

There have also been several instances of cross-border firing.

Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said his government was working on the agenda for the NSA talks.