NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accepted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s suggestion for a meeting between the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York scheduled later this month.
“The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan will meet on the sidelines of the UNGA,” the Indian foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar confirmed that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in the last week of September.
Indian spokesperson further added that New Delhi has accepted the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s suggestion and the meeting will take place on Pakistan’s request.
He sought to play down hopes of a full resumption in talks between the neighbors that have been in deep chill ever since coordinated attacks in Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people were killed.
“This is just a meeting, too much should not be read into the proposed meeting,” Kumar said. “This is not a resumption of dialogue. They asked for a meeting, we said yes,” he remarked.
Earlier this month, Indian PM Narendra Modi, in his a communique to Prime Minister Imran Khan had stated that he seeks “meaningful and constructive” engagement between the two neighbours.
Earlier, news emerged that PM Imran Khan has written a letter to PM Modi, seeking to re-start the talks on key issues including Kashmir.
In the letter dated September 14, Khan also proposed a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this month.
“Building on the mutual desire for peace between our two countries, I wish to propose a meeting between Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers at the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York,” Khan wrote.
In the letter to Khan, Modi conveyed India s commitment to pursue “meaningful” and “constructive” engagement with Pakistan and emphasising the need to work for a terror-free South Asia.
Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said in his tweet that Prime Minister Imran Khan in a letter to Indian counterpart Narendra Modi has responded with ‘positive spirit’ and invited him for a dialogue to resolve all issues.
“The prime minister has responded to PM Modi in a ‘positive spirit’, reciprocating his sentiments. Let’s talk and resolve all issues.”
The spokesman said a formal response was awaited from India in reply to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer for talks.
Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Modi last month had wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan saying that New Delhi was willing to hold a constructive and meaningful engagement with Islamabad. He had also felicitated Imran Khan on assuming the office of prime minister. Imran Khan in his victory speech had stressed on normal relations between the Himalyan neighbors.
While deploring Indian media’s hate campaign, Khan said, “If we want to slash poverty in the region, then we [Pakistan and India] must practice healthy trade ties”, he added. “If India comes and takes one step towards us, we will take two steps toward them. Right now, it is one sided where India is constantly just blaming us”, stated Khan.
Afterwards, Modi told Khan that India is ready for a new era of ties with Pakistan and called for crafting collective strategy for combating regional challenges.
In reciprocation, PM Khan wrote to the Indian premier, officially extending the offer to resume peace talks.
“I wish to propose a meeting between foreign minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the External Affairs minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers at the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York. They can explore the way forward, especially the holding of the SAARC Council of Ministers followed by the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. The summit will offer an opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to re-start the stalled dialogue process,” reads the letter written by the PM. NNI
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