India responds to Pakistan’s offer of dialogue to 'neighbor'

India responds to Pakistan’s offer of dialogue to 'neighbor'

New Delhi says atmosphere 'free of hostility' imperative for talks with Islamabad

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) - India on Thursday responded to an offer of dialogue from Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who earlier this week said the country was ready to resume long-stalled talks with its "neighbor" as war is "not an option anymore."

"We have seen the reports regarding comments by Pakistan Prime Minister. India's clear and consistent position on this is well known. We desire normal relations with all our neighbors including Pakistan," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told a news briefing in New Delhi.

"For this, an environment free of terror and hostility is imperative," he added.

Sharif on Tuesday said “we are ready to talk to them, provided that the neighbor is serious to talk on serious matters … because war is no more an option." He said the conflicts have resulted in more poverty and a lack of resources in the region.

Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors have been fraught for years. Since Partition in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars, two of them over the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.

New Delhi revoked the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. Islamabad says the move is illegal, and has since downgraded diplomatic ties and halted trade. Official bilateral talks remain suspended since then.

India, for its part, accuses Pakistan of helping Kashmir groups who have for years battled its security forces, something Pakistan denies, saying it only provides moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris for self-determination.

Meanwhile, India’s top court on Wednesday began hearing petitions challenging the legislation that stripped the disputed region’s statehood.

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