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Krishna asks Qureshi to get serious, end debate

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Friday rebuffed a statement by his Pakistani counterpart that he was in touch with New Delhi during the talks in Islamabad and said he won’t get into a debate with the Pakistani Minister.

“I was totally cut off from India yesterday (Thursday),” said Krishna, who reached Delhi after a three-day visit to Islamabad, when asked to comment on Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s allegation that he was in constant touch with Indian authorities during the talks.

“I never use any telephone, it’s an extraordinary statement to make,” he said.

He, however, said that there was nothing wrong if foreign ministers discuss issues with their political leadership. “But the fact of the matter is I was not in touch with anyone. The mandate given to me was so clear that I did not need any additional instructions,” he asserted.

“There was no ambiguity. As External Affairs Minister leading this delegation, I have confined myself to the mandate given to me and I am quite satisfied,” he told reporters at the IGI airport here shortly on arrival from Islamabad.

Krishna said he was serious about talks with Pakistan and will not get into a “debate” with Qureshi. “I am not going to score debating points with Qureshi. I would like to concentrate on serious issues. We did discuss issues that are of concern to both of us. We have made some headway.”

Asked what were the gains of his visit, Krishna said: “the very fact that I went to Islamabad and I talked about core issues in our relationship…if you consider it as a gain, I am ready to along with it.

“We talked about some of the burning issues that confront the two countries. To that extent that we have contributed in a manner where the trust deficit is getting reduced as part of the Confidence Building Measure,” he said.

Krishna also refuted Qureshi’s claim that Indian delegation was not prepared for the talks. “I was fully prepared,” he said.

Krishna objected to Qureshi comparing union Home Secretary G K Pillai and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed. “Where is the question of comparison between the two statements. He (Saeed) is a person who has been speaking out of turn against India. He has been crying for jihad against India,” Krishna told reporters at the airport.

He said India had always maintained that people in Pakistan who incite “anti-India propaganda” would not help “smoothen the relationship between the two countries”.

“Pillai is supposed to have made a statement to a particular newspaper,” the minister said, adding that the home secretary’s allegations on Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) being involved in the 26/11 Mumbai strike was a result of the access Indian officials had to US terror suspect David Coleman Headley.

“There is absolutely no comparison between the two (Pillai and Saeed),” said Krishna, who has been criticised widely at home for not defending Pillai at the press conference.

Qureshi said Pakistan has been told that terrorism is the “biggest obstacle” in normalising relations between the two countries.

“As long as this is not met, all other efforts would be futile. Hence, it is in the interest of this particular relationship, if it has to be strengthened, then positive, focused action will have to be taken by the leadership of Pakistan in tackling those perpetrators of these heinous crimes in Mumbai,” he said.

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