In a symbolic gesture, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin extended his "hand of friendship" when he was asked by Pakistani journalists about dialogue between the two countries.
The moment came during his address to the media after the United Nations Security Council’s closed-door consultations on Kashmir on Friday. A senior Pakistani journalist at the UN asked Akbaruddin about when will India begin a dialogue with Pakistan. To this, Akbaruddin quickly replied: "Let me begin by coming across to you and shaking your hand," walking up from the lectern to him and shaking his hand.
Akbaruddin then walked up to the other two Pakistani journalists in the media group and shook their hands with a smile. The gesture was cheered by those present at the UNSC stakeout.
"So let me tell you we have already extended our hand of friendship by saying we are committed to the Simla Agreement. Let us wait for a response on that from the Pakistani side," he said later.
Earlier, when asked will India agree to have a dialogue with Pakistan, Akbaruddin responded, "that there are normal diplomatic ways when countries deal with each other. That is the way to do it. But using terror to thrive and push your goals is not the way that normal states behave. No democracy will acknowledge or accept talks when terror thrives. Stop terror, start talks."
While taking questions from Pakistani journalists outside the UNSC meeting venue, Akbaruddin said India is committed to gradually removing all restrictions in Kashmir.
India remains committed to ensure that the situation in Kashmir remains calm and peaceful. We are committed to all the agreements that we have signed on this issue. We note that there are some who try to project an alarmist approach to the situation, which is far from the ground realities.