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Sharif justifies talks with separatists, says dialogue must go on

“We had been talking to the Kashmiri leaders in the past whenever Pakistan-India talks are held. This is nothing new as we have to seek the opinion of the Kashmiri leaders on an issue that concerns them the most,” Sharif told reporters on board his aircraft while returning home from the 18th SAARC Summit on Thursday.

Consultations held by Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi with Kashmiri separatists led to the cancellation by India of Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh’s visit to Islamabad in September. Since then both countries have maintained that they are willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue provided the other side takes the initiative.

Sharif said that India should not have cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level talks as was agreed upon during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi following his swearing in at New Delhi, The News reported.

He said Pakistan wishes to pursue the dialogue process from a position of dignity, honour and self-respect. “We believe in it and will maintain it at all costs,” he said.

Sharif said Pakistan desires a “meaningful” dialogue to resolve all issues including the Kashmir dispute.
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