16:21 GMT +315 October 2018
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    In this July 21, 2015 file photo, Indian and Pakistani flags are lowered during a daily retreat ceremony at the India-Pakistan joint border check post of Attari-Wagah near Amritsar, India

    Minister Says Pakistan Wants Dialogue With India, Blames Indian Domestic Affairs

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    UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - Pakistan is open for dialogue with India, but believes domestic political affairs in India prevent New Delhi from engaging in cooperation, Pakistan's Minister of Information Fawad Chaudry told Sputnik in an interview.

    "Internal politics of India forced Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi to withdraw from acceptance of dialogue, but we want dialogue," Chaudry said on Friday.

    He explained that when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan took office he said he wanted to normalize relations with India.

    "This offer was accepted, but just within 24 hours the group within the ruling party forced Prime Minister Modi to withdraw from this acceptance," the minister added.

    Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers were scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the 73d UN General Assembly. However, the Indian External Affairs Ministry last Friday canceled the planned meeting in light of the killings of Indian security staff in the disputed Kashmir region.

    "We stand for peace, and we offered talks to resolve our issues. India and Pakistan have been fighting on the issue of Kashmir for 7 decades. Now there is an uprising in Kashmir against the Indian rule," Chaudry said adding, "It depends on India. We are open for talks."

    The Jammu and Kashmir region has been disputed between India and Pakistan since the end of the British rule in 1947. Following several armed conflicts, the two countries agreed to a ceasefire in 2003. Since then, both sides have repeatedly accused each other of violating the truce, with the continued instability in the region leading to the emergence of various extremist groups.

    He also noted Pakistan is concerned about India moving closer to acquiring Russian S-400 air defense systems and urges Moscow not to bet on New Delhi alone, Information Minister Fawad Chaudry told Sputnik in an interview.

    On Thursday, local media reported that Indian authorities are ready to sign a $5.43 billion contract to purchase five regiments of Russian S-400 Triumph air defense systems.

    "That is the problem," Chaudry said on Friday when asked what Islamabad thinks of the possible purchase by India. "India is using its might against Pakistan, they are building their power against Pakistan, and that is very unfair. We know that Russia and India have a relationship, but now I think Pakistan is also getting closer to Russia. So Russia should not place its bets on India only."

    According to the Times of India media outlet, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave consent to the purchase of the Russian air defense systems. The decision was reportedly made ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the country, set for early October.

    India could become the third foreign buyer of these systems, following China and Turkey. Also, negotiations on the S-400 deliveries are continuing with Saudi Arabia. The United States voiced its concern over the Indian plans to purchase the S-400 systems, pointing out that sanctions over the deal could not be ruled out.

    Russia and Pakistan's relationship, Chaudry added, is improving day by day and Islamabad is looking forward to working closely with Moscow on defense, trade and economic issues.

    "I would like Russia to encourage cultural exchanges with Pakistan. I would like to have Russian journalists come visit us in Pakistan. We must get into cultural and media exchange programs," Chaudry said on Friday.

    Chaudry noted that Russia media outlets enjoy widespread popularity in his country.

    "For example, RT is one of the very famous channels here, it's one of the most watched channels. So we would like to have cooperation between RT and our television stations," he said.

    Relations between Russia and Pakistan have deepened in recent years, with the two countries expanding cooperation in the areas of defense, trade, commerce, economy and counter-terrorism, among others.

    Pakistan is uncertain about whether the United States will resume its aid to the country and sees US policy in Afghanistan as confusing, Fawad Chaudry said.

    "Right now we are not certain about that," Chaudry said on Friday when asked about the prospects of a resumption of US funding.

    Earlier this month, the Pentagon suspended $300 million in aid to Islamabad, citing the government's alleged failure to fight the Taliban and terrorists groups that conduct cross-border attacks from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. The US move came after Washington announced in January that it was suspending $900 million in security aid to Islamabad until it takes action against the Afghan Taliban.

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    dialogue, Fawad Chaudry, Imran Khan, India, Pakistan
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