Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

India, Pakistan foreign ministers to meet on UNGA sidelines next week

India-Pakistan Foreign Ministers To Meet In New York After Imran Khan Request India agrees to Imran Khan's request, Sushma Swaraj to meet Pakistan foreign minister at United Nations
Ellis Copeland | 21 September, 2018, 23:02

The government on Thursday accepted Khan's request for a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in NY. "Building on the mutual desire for peace between our two countries, I wish to propose a meeting between Foreign Minister Qureshi and External Affairs Minister Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in NY", he said in the letter, seeking resumption of the dialogue process started by his predecessor Nawaz Sharif.

Barely 24 hours after India agreed to talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in NY next week, the government has reversed its position, saying a meeting between top diplomats in the current environment would be futile.

It came after Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi calling for a resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed foes.

The UN General Assembly began on September 18 in NY and will conclude on September 30. He said, "This (the upcoming meeting) does not indicate any change as far as our policies on terrorism and cross-border terrorism are concerned".

When pointed out that decision was announced amidst reports of a BSF soldier's body being mutilated, Kumar said that India was "ascertaining facts on the matter".

"I would only say that there was a chance, which was missed".

Pakistan wants stability and peace in the region, the foreign minister said.

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BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said, "Has our BJP government made a decision to accept my advice not to talk or interact with Pak UN? Till then, what will be discussed in the meeting, we will have to wait till the meeting takes place", External Affairs Ministry (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told the weekly media briefing here, annoucning the first such high-level interaction between the neighbours after three years.

"Our permanent missions will get in touch with each other to work out how and when the meeting will take place", Kumar added.

The issue has become a political hot potato in Punjab, with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu having tried to steal the thunder by raising it during his Pakistan visit.

This is in sharp contrast to India's stand of holding talks only after cross-border terrorism from Pakistan stops.

The Indian government's accepted Pakistani PM Imran Khan's proposal.

.

Former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri said the cancellation reminded him of the Agra summit when everything was ready for joint statement but India backed out at the last minute.

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