New Delhi: As suspense mounted over holding of the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks after both sides hardened their positions on the issue of Kashmiri separatists, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Saturday called a press conference in Delhi.
A day before his scheduled departure for Delhi, Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz too has called a media meet in Islamabad at 1 pm (1.30 pm Indian time). Swaraj will meet the press at 4 pm.
The Pakistan NSA is scheduled to hold discussions with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval tomorrow and day after.
While India has made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Aziz was not appropriate, Pakistan reacted strongly to insist that it would not depart from the "established past practice" of interacting with separatist Hurriyat leaders.
India has described the invitation to Hurriyat representatives as a "provocative action" and accused Pakistan of trying to evade its commitment to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism as had been agreed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa (Russia) last month.
It said that Islamabad's insistence on meeting Hurriyat leaders as a pre-condition was a complete departure from the Ufa understanding. Moreover, India has always held the position that there are only two, not three, stakeholders in the bilateral relationship.
Unilateral imposition of new conditions and "distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward," External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said yesterday.
Pakistan had said last night that it was "deeply disappointed" at India putting forth "pre-conditions" for NSA-level talks, accusing it of going back on the decision mutually agreed at the highest level by coming up with "frivolous pretexts".
"This is the second time that India has chosen to go back on a decision mutually agreed upon between the two Prime Ministers, to engage in a comprehensive dialogue, by coming up with frivolous pretexts," Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman said.