On board PM’s special aircraft: Making it clear that India and Pakistan are not at a stage where they can resume dialogue, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday said recent incidents on the LoC are “upsetting" and are not conducive to the normalisation of ties.

“I must make it very clear that we have not reached a stage where we have done something like ‘so-called resumed talks’. We used to have a composite dialogue and that composite dialogue got suspended and then we began to move towards a process to resume that dialogue subsequently," he said.

“While the two Prime Ministers met in New York (last month), we have not reached a stage where we have indicated any dates, timeline or perspective on the resumed dialogue...But whether and when the political level dialogue will take place and when, that is yet not clear," he told reporters while returning with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after a bilateral visit to Indonesia.

He was responding to questions on whether recent incidents on the Line of Control (LoC) have impacted the dialogue process.

“But (as far as) the incidents at the LoC and border are concerned, they are upsetting. The army is dealing with it and the defence minister is dealing with it, but I can’t say it is conducive to a faster movement in normalisation," he said.

The incidents on the LoC are “unwelcome" and distract attention from efforts made by both sides to move towards normal relations, he said.

Khurshid said there were “many routine things" continuing between India and Pakistan and these “will continue". He added: “This (political dialogue) is something our leaders will work out in due course."

Bilateral ties soured after five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by Pakistani troops on the LoC in August.

More recently, the Indian Army conducted a 15-day operation in Keran sector of the LoC to flush out terrorists who infiltrated a village allegedly with the backing of Pakistani special forces.

Amid criticism over China issuing stapled visas to two archers from Arunachal Pradesh, the minister said that “differing perceptions" on the border issue lead to such “unsavoury" incidents, but they should not affect cooperation in other areas.

“We have developed with China a very specific understanding which is a two-track process. There are some unresolved issues with China," Khurshid told reporters. “Essentially, the unresolved issue with China is the differing perception as far as the boundary is concerned," he said.

The Minister was asked about the recent incident of two archers from Arunachal who were not allowed to board a flight to Guangzhou due to stapled Chinese visas and whether these incidents would affect bilateral talks, especially ahead of Singh’s visit to China later this month.

Rubbishing reports of confusion in the Congress party on its prime ministerial candidate, Khurshid said Rahul Gandhi is the party’s “consensus leader" and it is up to him to decide on taking the leadership role in government.

“There is no confusion at all. I want to make it clear that people make their own observations as per their thinking," he said. “We in Congress have accepted Rahul Gandhi as our leader by consensus. Whenever it is his wish, we will wait for his decision, indication, suggestion or the direction. PTI

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