THE HAGUE - Zeeshan Shamsi/Agencies - Underlining the need to resolve the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said India hesitated every time Pakistan approached it for talks.

He was speaking to media persons after holding a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of a two-day International Nuclear Summit in The Hague.

The premier proposed intervention by a third force over the Kashmir issue and said the matter could not be resolved without this.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the grant of most-favoured nation (MFN) status to India had been postponed. He said the decision to grant MFN status to India was postponed for a lack of consensus. Sharif further said he had directed his team to talk to all stakeholders and develop a consensus on the matter.

“We also deferred this due to elections in India because we did not want to favour a single political party in that country,” the PM said.

The prime minister said the government team would hold direct talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan on Tuesday (today). He said peace in Afghanistan was the need of Pakistan. He welcomed the US decision of halting drone strikes in the Pakistani territory.

Talking about the mediation with the Taliban, he said: “We are holding talks with sincerity and the government committee will visit North Waziristan to hold direct talks with the Taliban leadership.”

Nawaz Sharif is accompanied by his Special Assistant Syed Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

On this occasion, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We have great confidence in Pakistan’s nuclear security and the two countries are deeply engaged.”

John Kerry said the United States and Pakistan were working together to root out terrorism from the region. He averred the US was also cooperating with Pakistan to overcome its energy crisis as it wanted a viable and prosperous Pakistani nation.

Kerry said Pakistan-US working group on nuclear proliferation was working and strategic dialogue between the two countries was continuing. He assured Pakistan of assistance in dealing with the menace of terrorism.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif termed the meeting positive and constructive. He said the government was trying to resolve all the issues being faced by the country. He said both the countries had been reviewing the decisions taken at the meeting between him and President Obama.

The prime minister said Pakistan was an important US partner in the war on terrorism because of which the country was facing economic and other challenges. To confront these challenges, the US and the international community must extend assistance to Pakistan, Nawaz asserted. The Pakistani government on its part was taking effective steps to overcome the difficulties and was confident that these problems would be addressed, he hoped.

Nawaz described John Kerry as a sincere friend who always played his role to help Pakistan.

Both the leaders discussed bilateral relations and the scheduled withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year. They exchanged views on the situation in the region and the war on terrorism. Upcoming Afghan presidential elections also came under discussion. 

“The United States has halted drone attacks inside Pakistani tribal areas but still has concerns on alleged safe heavens of militants inside North Waziristan from where they purportedly cross over border and carry out attacks on US forces in Afghanistan,” Nawaz Sharif quoted John Kerry as talking him during the meeting.

Nawaz Sharif drew the attention of Kerry on terror sanctuaries inside Afghanistan and said our 23 FC soldiers were murdered by militants on Afghan territory. “I had spoken to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the matter and told him about this brutality committed against our soldiers,” Nawaz Sharif said.

“On drones, we appreciated the US decision. However, our position on drone attacks has been very clear – we strongly oppose and want a permanent end to drone strikes,” Nawaz Sharif said of their talk.

Nawaz Sharif disclosed that during the meeting, John Kerry expressed reservations on Pakistan’s missile programme which he removed and said this programme is Pakistan’s deterrence and not meant for any arms race in the region.