New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has rejected the claims of Pakistani media that India had expressed willingness to hold dialogue with the neighbouring country to improve the bilateral relations.

Raveesh Kumar, the MEA spokesperson, replying to the queries regarding India’s response to Pakistan’s congratulatory messages, said that it was a diplomatic exercise.

“As per the established diplomatic practice, PM and EAM have responded to the congratulatory messages received from their counterparts in Pakistan. In their messages, they have highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan,” said Raveesh Kumar.

The Pakistani media, citing diplomatic sources, had reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had expressed willingness to hold talks with the neighbouring country.

In his message, PM Modi had said, “It is important to build an environment of trust, free of terror, violence and hostility.”  EAM Jaishankar also emphasized the need for an ‘atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence’.

According to the Ministry of external affairs, the Indian response is as per established diplomatic practice and the India side highlighted that New Delhi “seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan.”

PM Modi and Jaishankar had highlighted, in their responses to the congratulatory messages received from Islamabad, that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan.

Kumar added that PM Modi’s message stressed on the importance of building an environment of trust, free of terror, violence, and hostility, while the EAM emphasized on the need for an atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence.

Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated drastically after the Pulwama terror attack, 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.

Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, after which the entire world threw its weight behind India in its fight against terrorism.

The United Nations designated the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” after China lifted its hold on a proposal to blacklist him.

India has maintained its stance that Pakistan needs to create a terror-free atmosphere in order to resume talks.

(With ANI Inputs)