28 February 2010

No third-party role in India-Pakistan ties: Congress, BJP

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday made it clear that there was no scope for a third party in India-Pakistan bilateral ties.

Commenting on Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor's remarks on Saudi Arabia's potential as an interlocutor in India's relations with Pakistan, a source close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi said: "India's position on 'no' to third-party mediation in India-Pakistan issues is unchanged. There is no change in the Congress position."

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar reiterated India's known stand that no third party can intervene in issues between India and Pakistan.

"Tharoor's remarks are objectionable. The prime minister must explain such irresponsible remarks," Javadekar told IANS.

"We will raise the issue in parliament. The prime minister must explain. The government stands exposed on flip-flops over foreign policy issues," he said.

Tharoor, who is accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his three-day official visit to Riyadh, said: "We feel Saudi Arabia has a long and close relationship with Pakistan and that makes Saudi Arabia a more valuable interlocutor to us."

He was asked if India would seek Saudi support to influence Pakistan to address Indian concerns over terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory.

As a mini-storm erupted over Tharoor's remarks, he clarified that New Delhi's desire to seek Riyadh's support on terrorism related issues with Islamabad did not mean giving it the role of a mediator in India-Pakistan disputes.

He said he had never used the word 'mediation' or 'mediator' while talking about a possible Saudi role.

"No chance of my saying Saudi Arabia should be a mediator... Never said that or anything like it," Tharoor said a couple of hours after the media publicised his earlier remarks.

India is firmly opposed to any third party role in its relations with Pakistan.


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