External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that India was open to talks with Pakistan provided it is done in a “civilised manner”, PTI reported. He said the talks must be done “without having the gun [of terrorism] pointed at my head”.

Speaking at the HT-Mint Asia Leadership Summit 2019 in Singapore, Jaishankar said most countries viewed India’s recent decisions with regard to Jammu and Kashmir as an internal matter and accepted that countries make such changes.

“They think it’s an Indian issue,” Hindustan Times quoted the minister as saying. “They are aware, in part from the reactions, that Pakistan is saying some pretty strong things about it. The general sentiment is that if there are issues at all, India and Pakistan should sit down and sort it out.”

Jaishankar also talked about the historical, governance and political matters that were at the centre of the Kashmir dispute and said that Article 370 of the Constitution was only a temporary provision. “The word temporary means something comes to an end,” Jaishankar said. The special status restricted businesses, which did not flourish in Jammu and Kashmir as much as the rest of the country, he said.

On terrorism in Pakistan, Jaishankar said Prime Minister Imran Khan had “himself said he has 40,000 terrorists in his country and these terror camps are all in the big cities of Pakistan”.

Relations with US, other countries

Jaishankar said that he was not perturbed by the tension in trade relations with the United States. “Reality is that if you trade with a country, you are going to have trade issues,” PTI quoted him as saying. “Question is how to manage these issues. I really think most of them [issues] are resolvable.”

The two countries have clashed over import tariffs in the past few months. In July, United States President Donald Trump had said India “has long had a field day” with tariffs, and that it was “no longer acceptable”. A month before that, Trump had decided to end preferential trade treatment for the India.

Jaishankar said that if India wanted to grow beyond South Asia, its ties with Southeast Asian countries, members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Singapore was going to be fundamental to it. “You cannot be among the top five economies of the world and say my world is really between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea,” Jaishankar said. “Naturally, as you progress, the world will expand beyond.”

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who attended the event, said that India, Singapore and Thailand would conduct a joint patrol, later in September, of the Andaman Sea in order to strengthen maritime security.

Noting the presence of more than 8,000 companies in Singapore, Keat said: “I am glad they find Singapore a good place for operation in Southeast Asia and the world.”

Jaishankar, who is in Singapore on a visit from September 6 and September 10, will preside over the 6th Meeting of Joint Ministerial Committee along with his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan. Bilateral matters and other topics to strengthen strategic partnership between the two countries would be discussed, according to PTI. He will also take part in a business and innovation event organised by the Indian High Commission on September 9 and September 10.

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