Pakistan diplomat ready for India talks despite row

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's national security adviser insisted Saturday that he was ready to travel to New Delhi for talks with his Indian counterpart despite a row between the arch-rivals over his planned meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

India's foreign ministry has said it would be inappropriate for Sartaj Aziz to hold talks with representatives of the Hurriyat separatist movement before his meeting on Sunday with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

India cancelled talks with Pakistan last year between their foreign secretaries, outraged over a similar meeting that took place, a move that set back already tense relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

"On my part, I am still prepared to go to New Delhi for NSA talks without any preconditions," Aziz told a news conference in Islamabad, accusing the Indian media of creating a controversy out of nothing.

Aziz claimed Delhi had "virtually cancelled" Sunday's talks, and added: "As always, India has been conducting a part of its diplomacy through the Indian media."

On Friday, India said it urged Pakistan against meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the rare talks, hiking tensions.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was due to address journalists Saturday afternoon.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region since both gained independence in 1947, and it remains a major source of tension.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during a visit to the Russian city of Ufa last month, with the hour-long talks seen as a new thaw in ties between the countries.

The leaders agreed then that their top security officials would meet to "discuss all issues connected to terrorism", in a resumption of talks between their officials.