New Delhi, Jan 17: Welcoming the peace on the border, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Thursday did not commit himself to accepting the offer of his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar for bilateral talks saying India could not move forward for talks just on the basis of “one statement”.
In an interview to CNN-IBN channel, Khurshid also said that India’s message two days ago that there “cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan in the wake of the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers, had not been said “only for effect”.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khar had called for talks with Khurshid, saying that continued tension along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir was not in the interest of South Asian peace.
Khurshid said India stands by its demands to Islamabad – asking for the perpetrator of the beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj to be brought to book.
“..we obviously stand by the content and the substance of what we believe is critical and crucial to what went wrong. And therefore obviously, addressing that will be a move towards putting it right,” he said.
He stressed that India was for bilateral talks to resolve problems with Pakistan, but “it’s not just one statement or one response that works. You have to take up the whole structure with you. And let’s see what’s the next step will be”.
Khurshid termed the peace on the LoC as a “very positive development” and added that if the armed forces of the two sides are able to “contain it at their own level then it doesn’t create a larger political issue at the higher level”.
He declined to say if the Pakistani women cricketers would be allowed to play the World Cup in India.
“Let’s just take it one step at a time. I think we shouldn’t jump to either negatives or positives in a hurry. Let’s just take it one step at a time. If the situation normalises, if the situation is peaceful and normal, then many of these questions will disappear by themselves,” he said.
Asked if the commerce ministers of the two countries would meet later this month as scheduled, Khurshid said he had no information of the meeting being called off.
“Today, as I speak to you, I have no such information. Let us see. We take it one day at a time, one step at a time,” he said.
Ties between the two neighbours have been strained ever since the Jan 6 killing of a Pakistani soldier allegedly in firing by Indian troops.
Two days later, Pakistani soldiers brutally killed two Indian soldiers, including beheading one of them, near the LoC.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Tuesday said there could not be “business as usual” with Pakistan following the barbaric killing of the two Indian soldiers, including the beheading of one.