Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj are likely to meet on the sidelines of a SAARC ministerial-level meeting in Nepal this week.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that Aziz “will meet Foreign Ministers of SAARC countries on the sidelines of the SAARC Council of Ministers’ meeting on March 17, 2016 in Nepal to extend Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s formal invitation to their respective Heads of State/Heads of Government for the 19th SAARC Summit, being hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad this year.”
Quoting diplomatic sources, The Express Tribune also reported that India and Pakistan were exploring the possibility of a meeting between Swaraj and Aziz and also between the foreign secretaries of the two countries in the Nepalese tourist city of Pokhara.
Aziz and Swaraj will be in Pokhara for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting on March 16 and 17.
A senior Pakistani official, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Islamabad was ready to resume the dialogue at any time, and was also open to a meeting between Aziz and Swaraj in Nepal.
“There is no proposal as of now for the meeting in Nepal but Pakistan will respond positively if India approaches us for this purpose,” the Pakistani official said.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup last week said that no schedule of bilateral meetings in Nepal have been drawn up with Pakistan or any other country.
The meetings, if held, will provide an opportunity to the two sides to discuss the much-delayed talks between the foreign secretaries, who were to meet in Islamabad in January.
The key foreign secretary-level talks are meant to draw up a roadmap for a series of meetings between the two countries on a range of issues, including Kashmir, peace and security, Siachen, Sir Creek, water, and trade and commerce.
The efforts to resume the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue hit a deadlock after the terror attack on Pathankot airbase that India has said was carried out by militants from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad militant group.
Sources said Aziz and Swaraj, if they meet, will discuss the possibility of an interaction between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi later this month in Washington.
The two prime ministers are scheduled to travel to the United States to attend a nuclear security summit to be hosted by US President Barack Obama.