PTI, August 14, 2013

India today asked Pakistan to stop ceasefire violations and said “air needs to clear” before the two sides return to business.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that there was a sense of disappointment over recent Pakistani actions.

“It is not possible to respond to something given in the atmosphere today. There is a sense of disappointment. We have lost our men on the border, we are still in a state of shock and grieving,” he said here.

Khurshid said the priority today was that ceasefire violations must stop. “Air needs to get clear before we start giving clear responses to many things that were half done and in the pipeline,” Khurshid said.

“The priority today is that first ceasefire violations must stop. It is important that we get peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control (LoC) and border, it is the highest priority.

“There are steps that need to be taken from the other side, the Pakistani side, before we can start addressing these issues,” he said, when asked about holding talks with Pakistan.

There has been escalation in border tension due to firing and ceasefire violations by Pakistan, especially after the killing of five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control in Poonch district nearly a week ago.

Earlier, while delivering the CUTS 30th Anniversary Lecture on ‘India’s Economic Integration with Asia’, Khurshid said that India needs to have cognitive and accommodative conversation with China.
“The conversation should be in a voice which has strength, effectiveness, confidence and belief and not a meek voice. The conversation should be accommodative from time to time with domestic need,”‘ he said.

The Minister said that India and China would work together one day but not today, as “it’s too early”.
He said India was already exploring in South China sea where it had commercial contracts with Vietnam and other countries of the region.

“We are not involved in a dispute in South China Sea. We believe that it should be settled bilaterally between countries which have different points of view. It should be done peacefully and within the four corners of the code of conduct that ASEAN is developing for South China sea,” he said.

Khurshid acknowledged that given the criticality of integration of India with Asian countries, “the approach that we take to further the economic integration and to face the various economic, political and social challenges to bring the nation together, is extremely important”.

He highlighted that Indo-Pacific region was one of the under-explored areas to be worked upon. Also, there was a need for India to provide links with Central Asia. He identified TAPI gas pipeline as one of the most forward looking link of India with Central Asia.

While stressing the importance of trilateral highway between India, Myanmar and Thailand, Khurshid said that linking with countries conceptually was more important than linking physically.
“There was a need to do away with the traditional way of thinking and start thinking out-of-the-box,” he added.

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