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Sushma Swaraj to break ice with Pakistan

Sushma Swaraj to break ice with Pakistan
Highlights

In a move that could break the impasse in India-Pakistan ties, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to visit Islamabad next week to attend a multilateral meeting on Afghanistan on December 8.

In a move that could break the impasse in India-Pakistan ties, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to visit Islamabad next week to attend a multilateral meeting on Afghanistan on December 8.


It is understood Pakistan had extended a formal invitation to Ms Swaraj three weeks ago to attend the ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul process, a 14-nation initiative on regional cooperation in Afghanistan. Ms Swaraj’s impending visit also assumes significance with Pakistan due to host the Saarc summit in January 2016.

The go-ahead for the minister’s visit comes just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in Paris on the sidelines of climate change summit.

Informed sources said here Tuesday night that the chances of the Indian minister’s visit were “fairly bright”, but a final decision was likely to be announced only Friday. The MEA spokesman said, however, that though the invitation from Pakistan had been accepted for the conference, the level of participation had not been decided so far.

In Paris, the two PMs had shaken hands and had a brief talk, with Mr Sharif seen listening attentively as Mr Modi spoke to him. The encounter was described as a “courtesy meeting” by government officials. Mr Sharif reportedly told the Pakistani media the talks were held in a “good way, in a good environment”, and added: “I had discussions with the Indian Prime Minister in a good way, in a good environment, and even they have expressed that we should take our issues forward. And we also have the same opinion and hope.” The United States has also welcomed the brief meeting between Mr Modi and Mr Sharif in Paris.

The last major initiative for India-Pakistan talks had come in July after Mr Modi and Mr Sharif met formally in Ufa, Russia. Soon after that, the two national security advisers were due to meet, but this fell through at the last minute over the Pakistani high commissioner’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders.
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