India, Pak to resume high-level talks: Sushma
December 09 2015 10:40 PM
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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj as Pakistan
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj as Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz looks on


Agencies/Islamabad

India will resume high-level talks with Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said yesterday, raising hopes that relations between the neighbours may be thawing slightly.
“India and Pakistan have decided to resume dialogue,” Swaraj said at a news conference in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad.
The last meeting in the process known as ‘Bilateral Dialogue’ was in September 2012. Relations between the two powers had chilled after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power last year.  
Swaraj also said Modi will visit Pakistan next year, the first such visit by the head of the Indian government in over a decade.
Modi will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) summit, she told reporters.
This will be the first prime ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s trip in January 2004 to attend that year’s Saarc summit.
Swaraj said she would accompany Modi during his visit, Geo TV reported.
Swaraj is in Islamabad to participate in the Heart of Asia Conference on peace and stability in Afghanistan.
She is the first Indian minister to visit Pakistan since the then external affairs minister S M Krishna went to Islamabad for an official visit in 2012.
At the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Ufa, Russia, in July, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Modi to attend the Saarc summit in Islamabad next year, which Modi had accepted.
After the Ufa meeting, both prime ministers directed their foreign secretaries to initiate the process of renewing talks, including meetings between the national security advisers of the two countries.
However, NSA-level talks between India’s Ajit Doval and his then Pakistani counterpart Sartaz Aziz scheduled in New Delhi in August were cancelled after the Pakistan high commissioner in New Delhi insisted on inviting separatist Hurriyat leaders for pre-talks consultations before Aziz arrived.
Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan comes after a flurry of diplomatic engagements between the neighbours in the past 10 days.
Modi and Sharif had an impromptu meeting on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties (CoP-21) Climate Summit in Paris on November 30.
Both leaders were seen warmly shaking hands at the summit venue as world leaders converged for the opening of the event.
The two leaders then sat on the same sofa and were seen engaging in an animated discussion.
Following this, on December 6, Doval and Pakistani NSA Naseer Khan Janjua held a meeting in Bangkok which was also attended by Foreign Secretaries S Jaishanker and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.
A joint statement issued after the meeting said the two NSAs held discussions “in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere”.
According to the statement, the NSAs “were guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia”.
“Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues including tranquillity along the LoC (Line of Control).”
“It was agreed to carry forward the constrictive engagement,” said the statement.
The LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Yesterday, Swaraj also met Sharif and Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of the Islamabad conference.
According to external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup, during the meeting with Sharif, Swaraj conveyed “India’s commitment to good neighbourly relations”.
After the meeting with Aziz, Swarup tweeted: “Building a co-operative relationship. EAM @SushmaSwaraj meets Pakistan’s Forteign Affairs Adviser Mr Sartaj Aziz.”
Earlier yesterday, Swaraj extended India’s hand of friendship to Pakistan at the Heart of Asia Conference.
“It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and co-operation,” she said in her address at the conference.
“For its part, India is prepared to move our co-operation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with,” she added.
Later, the Indian minister attended a lunch hosted by Sharif for delegates to the Heart of Asia Conference.



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