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September 8, 2018

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Ready to talk with India, says minister

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday said that the government and military are willing to hold talks with India for regional peace.

In an interview to BBC Urdu, the federal minister said that while Pakistan is willing to hold talks, the present government has not received any positive indication from India. "Imran Khan has given many hints to New Delhi in this regard," Chaudhry told the publication.

Pakistan will soon open the Kartarpur border for Sikh pilgrims, and allow them to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib without having to obtain a visa, said the federal minister. "A system has been formed for the pilgrims entering Pakistan," Chaudhry noted.

"As soon as he was elected prime minister, Imran invited Indian cricketers," he stated. "In his first speech, the prime minister said that we will take two steps forward in responseour current foreign policy is the country's diplomatic stance and not that of Imran Khan," he said.

Chaudhry further said that the military was in agreement with the government's decision to approach India to improve ties and hold talks. "Both Imran Khan and General Qamar Javed Bajwa understand that a country cannot progress in isolation," he said. "Both leaders understand that we will be left behind in the race of development if regional peace is not ensured."

Speaking about the visit of a US delegation, Chaudhry said meetings with the US dignitaries were held in a positive environment. "The prime minister himself said that the environment of meetings was opposite of what was expected," he said.

Furthermore, Chaudhry said talks with the US delegation were open and straightforward. He also remarked that there was not as much of a difference between the stance of the US and Pakistan as perceived before the meetings were held.

"Imran Khan understands Afghanistan and Pashtun culture much better than other premiers," he said. "The prime minister's popularity can prove beneficial to solve the Afghan issue." The federal minister further stated that Prime Minister Imran believes that a political, not military, solution, is necessary for the Afghan issue. "The US has also developed a similar viewpoint which will play a positive part in the matter," said Chaudhry.

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