Pakistan invites Sushma Swaraj for ‘Heart of Asia’ meet in Dec

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018

Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister

But govt may send only an official

In a move seen as a first step towards resumption of talks, Pakistan has formally invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference to be held in Islamabad on December 8.

While India has received the invitation, it has “not yet formally given a response” to Pakistan, a senior official told  BusinessLine. The official stated that in all likelihood, India would depute an official to represent the Minister.

“It is not mandatory for the Minister to attend the conference. She can nominate someone on her behalf. We are keen on this dialogue, after all it concerns the development of Afghanistan,” the official added.

On the other hand, Pakistan seemed to be open to the idea of resuming the dialogue between both the National Security Advisors (NSA), which was cancelled in August. The meeting was called off after both sides could not agree on whether or not the dialogue should be restricted only to the issue of ‘terrorism’ or whether it should also include the Kashmir dispute.

Breaking the ice

After the bitter tiff between both neighbours following the cancellation of the NSA-level talks, the situation seemed to have improved a bit with Pakistan sending Geeta back to her home country to be reunited with her parents after a span of 13 years.

Recently, India had also sent an invitation to Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan to attend the SAFTA Summit that was held here in September. But Pakistan sent a junior representative.

India has maintained that any dialogue with Pakistan will take place only when there is peace and tranquillity at the borders and no other parties like the Kashmiri separatist leaders are involved in the talks. Pakistan had maintained that there could be no dialogue between both countries without the issue of Kashmir being taken up.

During the meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia, both countries had decided to hold a regular dialogue.

The ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference was last hosted by China in October last year. It largely focuses on the development of Afghanistan.

Apart from China, India and Pakistan, the dialogue also includes Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Published on November 11, 2015

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