NEW DELHI, July 27: US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s peace mission to South Asia got off to an uncertain start on Saturday with India saying it was not prepared to resume talks with Pakistan.

Powell had said he was not counting on any breakthrough on his trip and his gloomy assessment appeared to be proved right in his first meeting, with Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha ruling out early dialogue with Pakistan.

“India is always ready for dialogue (but) we do not think the necessary conditions exist,” Sinha told reporters after his talks with the top US diplomat.

Powell was also rebuffed over his suggestion that international monitors observe polls expected in October in occupied Kashmir.

“We have a very independent election commission, we are very proud of our record of elections in this country and I can assure you that with all this in place, elections in (held) Kashmir will be very free and fair,” Sinha said.

Powell had said en route to the region that observers would “help the Indians show the international community, the world that it is a free, open, fair election.”

Hours before Powell arrived in New Delhi, Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged small-arms and mortar fire along the Line of Control.—AFP

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