After Pak PM’s letter, Govt says foreign ministers to meet in New York

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Sep 20, 2018 05:30 PM IST

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will be in New York to attend the SAARC foreign ministers lunch on September 27 where her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi will also present.

Following a letter from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to PM Narendra Modi, India has confirmed a meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in New York later this month.

Newly elected parliamentarian Imran Khan (left) takes the oath of office with Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on August 13, 2018.(AP)
Newly elected parliamentarian Imran Khan (left) takes the oath of office with Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on August 13, 2018.(AP)

“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between EAM & Pakistani foreign minister will take place on the sidelines of UNGA at a mutually convenient date and time,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

Swaraj will leave for New York on September 24. She and Qureshi are heading the delegations of their respective countries to the United Nations General Assembly.

The two foreign ministers are to attend the SAARC foreign ministers lunch and get-together on September 27.

As the first step, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his letter, had suggested a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

Though Imran Khan called for resumption of comprehensive dialogue process, India would like to see progress on the neighbour addressing its concerns on terrorism, sources indicated.

They said any move such as Pakistan moving ahead with the process of bringing those behind 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks would be a proof of its sincerity in addressing New Delhi’s concerns.

The India-Pakistan ties have nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place.

Relations between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016 and India’s surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The sentencing of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a military court in April last year further deteriorated bilateral ties.

The two sides often accuse each other of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control, resulting in civilian casualties.

India had also announced decision to skip the 2016 SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad due to “prevailing circumstances” after a major terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year.

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate.

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