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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

India and Pakistan trade insults after sideline meeting collapses

UN General Assembly 2018: The warring countries addressed the assembly moments after each other 

India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly. AFP
India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly. AFP

India and Pakistan yesterday traded accusations over the collapse of peace talks following the death of an Indian border guard.

In terse comments in speeches by their foreign ministers at the United Nations General Assembly, India accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, pointing to Osama Bin Laden's life in Pakistan before he was killed by US Navy Seals, as evidence.

Pakistan claimed India called off peace talks last week on "flimsy grounds," saying they "prefer politics over peace."

Addressing the assembly first, India's Minister for External Affairs accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists. "In our case, terrorism is bred not in some faraway land, but across our border to the west," said Sushma Swaraj.

"Our neighbour's expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism, it is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity."

But the minister did not rule out peace talks altogether, saying "we believe talks are the only rational means to solve disputes."

Later Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said: "India called off dialogue, the third time for the Modi government, each time on flimsy grounds - they prefer politics over peace."

"No longer can the excuse of terrorism be used to systematically oppress the Pakistani people," Mr Qureshi added.

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Mrs Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart were supposed to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week. India called it off only one day after it was announced, following the killing of an Indian border guard in the disputed region of Kashmir.

"We accepted the proposal," Mrs Swaraj said. "But within hours of our acceptance, news came that terrorists had killed one of our jawans [border guards]. Does this indicate a desire for dialogue?"

The newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has written to his Indian counterpart stressing the need for positive change, a mutual desire for peace and a readiness to discuss terrorism. Mr Khan made peace with Pakistan one of his key aims for his first term.