'Talks on terror can definitely go ahead'

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During an interaction between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, India made it clear that terror and talks cannot go together but talks on terror can go ahead, media reports said.

Raveesh Kumar, the spoksperson of the Ministry of External Afairs, told reporters that the focus of the "operational-level talks" was "cross-border terror" and ways to ensure the elimination of terrorism from the region.

Confirming for the first time that NSA Ajit Doval met his Pakistan counterpart Nasir Janjua in Bangkok in December, India said while terror and talks cannot go together, talks on terror can definitely carry on - a formulation that keeps the window for engagement open.

He further said, "We have said terror and talks cannot go together but terror can definitely go ahead".

Responding to queries, Kumar sought to de-link the meeting between the NSAs from the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue process and said it was a part of operational level engagement between the two countries. Besides that, there are several other dialogue mechanisms between India and Pakistan. We have said talks and terror can not go together. "Some of these meetings are pre-determined".

He said the issue of cross-border terrorism was raised in the meeting.

Kumar also stated that these operational-level mechanisms do take place.

Previous year too, there was no movement on India-Pakistan talks though in December, The Indian Express reported that Doval had met his counterpart in Thailand.

The meeting, reported to have lasted more than two hours, was kept under wraps, but it is believed that the Indian NSA raised the issue of infiltration of militants into Kashmir from across the Line of Control (LoC) with active support from the Pakistan Army.

The two women had on December 25 met the former Indian naval officer who Pakistan says is a spy - an allegation India denies - from across a glass screen.

India has introduced some nuance rephrasing in its lexicon on engaging Pakistan on terror issues.

In fact, the two NSAs spoke shortly after the Pathankot attack in January 2016.

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