India rejects Pakistan’s invitation for Modi to attend SAARC summit

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Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (R) attends a news conference after the 13th Russia-India-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting, at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, February 2, 2015. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool/Files

NEW DELHI: Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Pakistan to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.

The Indian foreign minister appreciated Pakistan’s decision to open the Kartarpur Corridor but added that bilateral talks between the two countries will not begin anytime soon.

“Bilateral dialogue and Kartarpur corridor are two different things. I am very happy that for the last 20 years, rather many years, the government of India has been asking for this Kartarpur corridor. And for the first time, Pakistan has responded positively to this,” she said.

“But this does not mean that the bilateral dialogue will start only on this,” she added.

On Tuesday, Pakistan announced that it would extend an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for attending the SAARC summit.

Addressing the Kashmir Conference here on Tuesday, Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Faisal recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two.

He said that the PM, in his response to Modi’s letter, had expressed Pakistan’s openness to resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue with India.

“We fought a war with India, relations cannot be fixed quickly,” Dr Faisal said.

Earlier, the 19th SAARC summit to be held in 2016 in Pakistan was cancelled after India boycotted the event. After India’s refusal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also pulled out of the moot.