Breaking the ice in ties, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session that begins later this month — the first such high-level interaction between the neighbours after three years.
“I can confirm that on the request from the Pakistani side a meeting between the two foreign ministers will take place on the sidelines of the UNGA at a mutually convenient date and time.
“We have just agreed to the meeting. The Permanent Missions of both India and Pakistan will together work out the details. 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.
Replying to questions, Kumar suggested that the coming meeting was not resumption of the dialogue process.
This follows a letter written by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking resumption of dialogue and suggesting a meeting between the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA, and a letter written by Qureshi to Sushma Swaraj.
When pressed further, Kumar said this is just a meeting and there is nothing much to be read into this at this stage.
Kumar also revealed that India has confirmed that it would attend a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) foreign ministers.
“The existing policy on the Saarc process will continue. I don’t think there is any change in it,” said the MEA spokesperson.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had met the then Pakistan’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad in 2015 and two decided to resume the comprehensive dialogue process.
This was followed by an unscheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lahore on the Christmas Day. But the bilateral ties took a severe beating after the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase on January 2, 2016.
Asked whether the foreign ministers meeting in New York is the beginning of a dialogue process, he merely repeated that they requested for a meeting and we have not discussed details.
On reports of brutality on a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan who was killed in firing from the Pakistani side, he said it was a barbaric incident and the BSF has written a strong communication to its counterparts in Pakistan.
“It is a serious issue and we will take it up Pakistan.”