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India cancels talks with Pakistan over Kashmir row

Aug 19, 2014, 7:38 AM EDT
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hand with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting in New Delhi recently.
AFP/Getty Images

India on Monday canceled planned talks with Pakistan, derailing the latest effort at rapprochement between the nuclear-armed neighbors, which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Indian Foreign Ministry said it wouldn't take part in discussions set for next week after Pakistan's envoy in India met with separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, an Indian state also claimed by Pakistan.

India's foreign secretary told the Pakistani envoy "that Pakistan's continued efforts to interfere in India's internal affairs were unacceptable," said Syed Akbaruddin, the Foreign Ministry spokesman. "Under the present circumstances, it is felt that no useful purpose will be served" by a meeting between the two sides.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said it was "a long-standing practice" for its officials to meet with "Kashmiri leaders" before talks with India in order to "facilitate meaningful discussions on the issue of Kashmir."

"The Indian decision is a setback to the efforts by our leadership to promote good neighborly relations with India," it said in a statement.

Relations between India and Pakistan, a close ally of neighboring China, have a major impact on regional stability and security. Deep-rooted suspicion between the two has also stymied attempts at achieving greater economic integration and better connectivity in and around South Asia. This month has seen a sharp increase in violations of a 2003 cease-fire agreement aimed at reducing cross-border hostilities.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan's opposition party in Pakistan says it has decided to resign all its seats in the national assembly. The BBC writes:

A senior member of party said they were trying to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party has 34 of the national assembly's 342 seats, making it the second-biggest opposition group.

Mr Khan accuses Mr Sharif's party of vote rigging in the 2013 election and has called on him to stand down. Mr Sharif won that vote by a landslide. Shah Mehmud Qureshi, a senior PTI leader, said the party would also withdraw from three out of four provincial assemblies in Pakistan.

The fourth province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is under PTI control and officials there would not resign, he said. The MPs' resignations must be submitted to the national assembly speaker but correspondents said this would not happen on Monday as parliament had adjourned for the day.

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