" Bharatiya Janata Party leader Siddharth Nath Singh, meanwhile, said that provocation and peace cannot go together. "
New Delhi, Aug 18 - In a tough move, India Monday called off the Aug 25 foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after the latter's envoy held a meeting with a separatist Kashmiri leader here. Islamabad's interference in India's internal affairs was unacceptable, it said.

External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin conveyed the government's decision following Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit's meeting with separatist Kashmiri leader Shabir Shah in the capital Monday for consultations before the foreign secretary level talks.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh's visit to Islamabad for talks on Aug 25 stands cancelled, Akbaruddin said.

He said the talks have been called off as no useful purpose will be served by her visit to Islamabad.

It was underlined that Pakistan high commissioner's meeting with the so-called leaders of the Hurriyat undermined constructive diplomatic engagement initiated by the prime minister (Narendra Modi) on his very first day in office, Akbaruddin said.

The Indian foreign secretary, therefore, conveyed to the Pakistan high commissioner today (Monday) in clear, unambiguous terms that Pakistan's continued efforts to interfere with India's internal affairs were unacceptable, he said.

The only path available to Pakistan is to resolve outstanding issues with peaceful, bilateral dialogue within the framework and principles of Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, Akbaruddin added.

The Congress, which had questioned the move to hold talks in the wake of Pakistan's invitation to separatists, said that the Modi government needs to explain why it decided to have talks with Pakistan in the first place.

I think the government needs to explain why in the first place it decided to go ahead (with talks), Congress leader Manish Tewari said.

Congress leader Amarinder Singh said the Modi government had not done its homework before proceeding with talks with Pakistan.

While it (meeting with the Kashmiri separatist leaders) was a diplomatic indiscretion on part of Pakistan, the government of India also appeared not to have done its homework properly before deciding to go ahead with such high-level talks, he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Siddharth Nath Singh, meanwhile, said that provocation and peace cannot go together.

Abdul Basit had invited Kashmiri separatist leaders, including hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani and moderate group leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, for consultations ahead of foreign secretary level talks in Islamabad. The meetings were to be held Monday and Tuesday.


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