05/06/2017 6:54 PM IST | Updated 05/06/2017 6:54 PM IST

Kashmir Issue Must Be Solved Bilaterally, Can't Be Taken To ICJ, Says Sushma Swaraj

'Terror and talk can't go together'

Ammar Awad / Reuters

NEW DELHI -- Asserting that there is no "flip-flop" in dealing with Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said the Kashmir issue can never be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and that there can be no third party involvement in finding a solution to it.

Maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together, she also made it clear that no meeting has been fixed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Astana later this month.

Addressing a press conference to mark the completion of three years of the Modi government, Swaraj said the Kashmir problem can be solved only through talks directly between India and Pakistan and not through involvement of any third party.

"Three things people should keep in mind when we talk of Pakistan. There are three pillars. We want to sort out all issues with Pakistan through talks bilaterally and not through mediation of any group, country or associations. Talks and terror cannot go together. No flip-flip or one step forward-two steps backward," she said.

Swaraj also said the atmosphere was not conducive for talks with Pakistan as it has been vitiated by Islamabad. Sharif was invited to Modi's swearing in and later the Prime Minister also went to Lahore in December 2015 to meet the Pakistan Prime Minister.

"I went to the Heart of Asia conference in December 2015 and started bilateral talks. Then, Prime Minister Modi went to Lahore on December 25. Then the new year began with Pathankot. Won't you take the changed circumstances into consideration? They described top Hizbul commander Burhan Wani as a freedom fighter and martyr. For talks even on humanitarian grounds, there must be a good environment or humanitarian basis. Do you think there is an atmosphere for talks?," Swaraj asked.

"These are gestures of goodwill, nobody thought the Prime Minister would do it with an out-of-box thinking, but within a week Pathankot happened," she said.

Replying to a question whether taking the Kulbhushan Jadhav case to ICJ by India risked the Kashmir issue being taken there, Swaraj said, "Kashmir issue can never be taken to ICJ because both the countries are bound by the Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration to solve it bilaterally. We will solve our issues bilaterally."

Justifying the Jadhav issue being taken to ICJ, she said that India and Pakistan have been fighting various issues like the Indus Water Treaty through arbitration in forums like ICJ and World Bank. She said the Jadhav issue was taken to ICJ because Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention. She expressed confidence that India would win the case finally.

Asked whether Modi and Sharif would meet on the sidelines of the SCO, she said: "No decision on meeting has been taken."

Asked whether India would urge US President Donald Trump to bring pressure to stop Pakistan from sponsoring cross border terrorism, Swaraj told the questioner that it would have been better if he had not taken the US President's name. India, she said, always takes up the issue of terrorism in all available international fora and said the time has come for all the countries to agree on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations.

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