18:17 GMT24 January 2021
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    New Delhi (Sputnik) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to use Pakistan's airspace, despite having Islamabad's approval, while travelling to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan in June. Pakistan fully reopened its airspace to civilian flights in July this year, nearly five months after it was closed on 26 February.

    Modi entered Pakistani airspace on 21 August as he embarked on a trip to attend the G7 Summit in France.

    Air India One departed at 1212 local time from New Delhi and crossed Pakistan airspace near Lahore and south of Islamabad. Modi will reach Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris at 2100 hrs (Indian Standard Time), according to global flight tracking service flightradar24, and then hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.

    The move marks the first time Modi has used Pakistani airspace since the Balakot airstrike in February when Indian fighter planes bombed what they alleged was a terrorist training camp within Pakistan operated by Jaish-e-Mohammed. 

    The attack was in retaliation for a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed at least 40 Indian troops on 14 February.

    In June, Modi refused to use Pakistan's airspace while travelling to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kyrgyzstan, despite having approval from Pakistan to use its airspace. But the Indian External Affairs Ministry declined to use the airspace and Modi travelled instead via Oman, Iran and the Central Asian countries.

    The two nuclear-armed nations almost came to blows in February this year, when at least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

    Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had expressed his desire to resume talks, stalled since 2016, aimed at bringing peace to the region. But relations then hit a new low last month after New Delhi revoked the special constitutional status of the disputed Kashmir region.

    In an interview with The New York Times on 21 August, Khan expressed his frustration, saying he is no longer seeking dialogue with India.

    “There is no point in talking to them. I mean, I have done all the talking. Unfortunately, now when I look back, all the overtures that I was making for peace and dialogue, I think they took it for appeasement,” Khan said.

    Khan also criticised India and asked global leaders to keep an eye on New Delhi after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh suggested last week that the country may re-evaluate its "no first use of nuclear weapons" doctrine.


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