India-Pakistan Peace Talks Collapse Before They Even Begin

India-Pakistan Peace Talks Collapse Before They Even Begin

Peace talks between arch rivals Pakistan and India descended into failure on Saturday just hours before they were officially scheduled to start. The nuclear armed rivals were unable to overcome decades of deep mistrust.

The talks were agreed to by Pakistani president Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they met in Russia last month.

Yet the two countries failed to agree on a simple agenda ahead of Sunday's scheduled start, with Pakistan accusing India of imposing "preconditions" on the talks.

Pakistan pulled its delegation after Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said the talks would not occur if Pakistan's National Security Advisor (NSA) Sartaj Aziz met with separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir.

While India only wanted to discuss terrorism-related issues, Pakistan was insistent on a wider agenda that would include discussing the hot button issue of who owns Kashmir.

Pakistani officials said in a statement that "talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India."

"We have come to the conclusion that the proposed NSA level talks between the two countries would not serve any purpose," Pakistan's foreign ministry went on to say.

"It is not reasonable for India to now assume the right to decide unilaterally that from now onwards, other issues will be discussed after terrorism has been discussed and eliminated."

India termed Pakistan's decision "unfortunate."

Since becoming separate nations in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Both countries claim the region as their own yet rule only part of it.

India has continually been angered by Pakistan backing separatist Muslim rebels in the India controlled area of Kashmir.

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