Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said India is “obliged to engage” Pakistan but cannot do so by surrendering its national interest.

“I cannot say how soon,” Dr. Singh said when asked to spell out when dialogue between India and Pakistan could begin.

“It is our policy to engage with Pakistan. That does not mean we should surrender or give up our essential national interest,” Dr. Singh said.

Recalling his oft-repeated statement that one can choose friends but not neighbours, Dr. Singh said “therefore, we are obliged to engage Pakistan,” he said.

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