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Congress cautions govt about `slip and slide` on Indo-Pak talks

PTI | Last Updated: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 22:44

New Delhi: Cautioning the government about the risk of "slip and slide" over the proposed foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan on August 25, Congress on Friday said the country "must have some deliverables first" before moving forward to hold a dialogue.

Taunting BJP for its past attack on the UPA over the Pakistan issue, former External Affairs Minister and Congress spokesperson Salman Khurshid asked the government what is the basis behind the decision to send the Foreign Secretary to Pakistan and "whether there has (been any) improvement or there is expectation of improvement" in relations from the Pakistan side.

"The government should tell in clear terms what is the change in the situation... Whether an improvement has happened from the earlier situation. What will our Foreign Secretary talk (about)," Khurshid said, but hastened to add that his Congress party was not against talks with neighbours.

Referring to BJP`s "biryani diplomacy" remarks, Khurshid asked whether there will be "no biryani" this time.

"BJP used to say such things. What we fed the Pakistani leaders. I want to ask whether a decision has been taken not to have biryani when you go there or take your own food or do not consume salt... We should be told what the menu... Our biryani was good or theirs," he said in a lighter vein.

Attacking the government in general over its foreign policy, the former minister said that it "lacks depth and serious approach" and that the government should realise that "diplomacy is not about foolhardiness".

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s proposed visit to the US in September this year, Khurshid said he was "disappointed" with the outcome of the meeting between Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry here.

Referring to the controversy over the alleged snooping on Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Khurshid asked "whether snooping happened or not. What Kerry said about it neither confirms nor denies it.
We want to know what happened with our diplomat in the US (Devyani Khobragade). Whether that chapter was permanently closed or not".

Asked whether it was proper to raise doubts over the
functioning of just a three-month old government on issues of external affairs, Khurshid insisted that "we are duty bound to caution (the government) where there is a slip and a slide".

He said that if one ends up damaging foreign policy, repairing it takes a long time.

The minister said that Modi raised the pitch on foreign policy so high that now there is difficulty in the government to meet it and advised the Prime Minister to "accept that a wrong was done" when he delivers his Independence Day speech on August 15.

"There is a clear case of hypocrisy. I am not saying that every party is 100 per cent same when it is the ruling party and when it is in Opposition. But there is a limit.

"BJP raised the pitch on foreign policy so much that now they are wondering what to say. The Prime Minister should say that they committed mistake," Khurshid said.

First Published: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 22:44

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