NEW DELHI: India says it was not shying away from talks with Pakistan and that New Delhi is prepared to discuss all issues with Islamabad.

“India has never shied away from engagement with Pakistan and is prepared to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan bilaterally in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in reply to a question at his weekly media briefing.

“In fact, it is India which has repeatedly taken initiatives to engage Pakistan,” he said.

His comments come after Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday accused India of “avoiding” dialogue with Pakistan as it would mean having to negotiate issues like Kashmir.

Contradicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement in an interview to a TV channel in which he placed the onus of the stalled bilateral talks on Pakistan, Aziz asserted that Pakistan was not refraining from talks with its neighbour.

Swarup said it was Modi who first invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony on May 26, 2014.

“Thereafter, it was again External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who travelled to Pakistan in December 2015 and held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference, which led to the decision to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.

“And it was again Modi who took the decision to travel to Lahore at a very short notice on Dec 25, 2015,” Swarup pointed out.

Following the decision to hold the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar was scheduled to go to Pakistan in the middle of January to discuss modalities for the dialogue.

However, a cross-border terror attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot that claimed the lives of seven Indian security personnel derailed the process.

Swarup referred to Sushma Swaraj’s statement at a press conference on June 19 in which she said that after an incident like Pathankot, it was a natural and legitimate expectation of the government and the country that there should be concrete action from the Pakistani side.