External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj likely to travel to Pakistan next week

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December 4, 2015

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have decided in principle to depute foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to attend the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad on December 7 and 8, following his brief meeting with Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif in Paris last Monday.

December 4, 2015

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have decided in principle to depute foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to attend the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad on December 7 and 8, following his brief meeting with Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif in Paris last Monday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to travel to Pakistan next week for a multilateral meeting, a move that could break the impasse in Indo-Pak ties

While neither the Ministry of External Affairs nor Swaraj's office confirmed the visit, it is understood that the government may have decided to depute her for the meet in what would be a big visit to make progress in the relationship with Pakistan.

Even though it is a multilateral meeting, the visit will provide opportunity for India to re-engage with the neighbor after NSA level talks were called off by Pakistan in August, after its insistence on expanding the scope of the dialogue.

This will be first big visit from India to Pakistan since the Modi government came to power. Sharif had joined other South Asian leaders for Modi's swearing-in ceremony in Delhi. The invitation for the 27-nation conference on the Afghan issue was delivered to India almost a month back but the Modi government did not take a decision with the Parliament session on, officials had indicated.

It was later decided to send a high-level delegation for the meet which India will host next year. After the two PMs shook hands and shared a sofa for a few minutes' tete-a-tete in Paris on November 30, a decision seems to have been made. The two leaders were seen listening attentively to each other there. Sharif had later said, "talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi were good. Doors of dialogue should open."

The last initiative for India-Pakistan talks came in July, when Modi and Sharif held a bilateral meeting in Russia's Ufa on the sidelines of a conference. National Security Advisor-level talks were scheduled soon but never took off.

 

In September, both prime ministers attended the United Nations General Assembly and even stayed at the same hotel, but there was no formal meeting. At UNGA, Swaraj retorted Sharif 's call for dialogue by saying that the issue of terror must be addressed before a dialogue.


Courtesy: ET