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Sushma rules out possibility of Modi-Sharif meeting during SCO summit in Astana

NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday ruled out any possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit this month in Astana, Kazakhstan.  
``There is no proposal for such a meeting. Neither they (Pakistan) nor we have proposed a meeting at Astana,'' she said while replying to a question at her annual press conference to mark the completion of three years of the NDA government in office. The Minister's stand makes it clear that there would not be any chance for either a hand shake or a pull aside between Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif at Astana. 
Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to attend the SCO summit at Astana beginning June 8 which will also be attended by Mr. Sharif. The two premiers had met briefly at SCO summit in Ufa, Russia in 2015. Besides Russia, China and Central Asian nations, SCO summit at Astana will formally admit India and Pakistan in the organisation. 
Tensions between India and Pakistan have been growing over the past couple of years, particularly after the Pathankot Air Force base terror attack and death sentence handed down to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer who was reportedly picked up from Iran and taken to Pakistan. India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, alleging violation of Vienna Convention as Islamabad had repeatedly denied consular access to Jadhav. The ICJ had stayed the implementation of the death sentence to Jadhav till the world court delivers its final verdict. 
Maintaining that there was no flip-flop in India-Pakistan bilateral ties, the External Affairs Minister reiterated three principles on which relations with Pakistan could be judged. Both India and Pakistan will solve all issues through talks, the bilateral dialogue will not need any mediation or interference by a third party and terror and talks do not go together. She said the NDA government always applied these three principles while assessing India's ties with Pakistan. 
She clarified that Prime Minister Modi had decided for a stop-over at Lahore in December 2015 in response to an invitation by Mr. Nawaz Sharif. It was an out-of-the-box goodwill gesture by Prime Minister Modi who was returning home after a visit to Afghanistan, she said. ``But we got Pathankot terror attack in the new year,'' she said. 

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