Source: Agencies01 Jul 2016 20:50:58

New Delhi, July 1: Replying to Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz asserting that India was avoiding dialogue with Pakistan, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Friday said that India has never ever shied away from any engagement with Pakistan and is prepared to discuss all outstanding issues.

As far as the comments of Sartaj Aziz are concerned, I would say that India has never ever shied away from any engagement with Pakistan and is prepared to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan bilaterally, in an atmosphere free from terror and violence," Vikas Swarup told the media during press conference in New Delhi.

Swarup asserted that it was India which has repeatedly taken initiatives to engage with Pakistan, “it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who first invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in 2014”, he said.

Thereafter, it was again the External Affairs Minister, who travelled to Pakistan in December 2015 and held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference which led to the decision to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue with Pakistan,' he further said.

Adding that it was Prime Minister Modi who yet again took the decision to travel to Lahore on a very short notice on December 25 last year, Swarup stated that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar was prepared to go to Pakistan in the first half of January this year to hold initial discussions on the modalities of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, but the Pathankot incident intervened.

"After that incident of Pathankot, it was a natural and legitimate acceptation of both the governments and the people of India, that there should be concrete action from Pakistan which has not denied of the involvement of its nationals in the attack," Swarup added.