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  India   All India  21 Sep 2018  Sushma Swaraj, Shah Mahmood Qureshi will meet soon on sidelines of UNGA

Sushma Swaraj, Shah Mahmood Qureshi will meet soon on sidelines of UNGA

AGE CORRESPONDENT WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Published : Sep 21, 2018, 12:58 am IST
Updated : Sep 21, 2018, 4:59 am IST

The meeting is taking place on Pakistan’s request and the agenda for the meeting has not been finalised.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj (Photo: PTI)
 External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan will meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York next week, the government announced on Thursday, the first such high-level engagement since suspension of dialogue between the two nations after the Pathankot air base terror attack in 2016.

Announcing the meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj with her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, however, made it clear that the proposed meeting would not amount to a resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue and that India agreed to the meeting following a request from Pakistan.

He also insisted the decision doesn’t change India’s position on cross-border terrorism.

During the meeting, likely to take place next week after the UN General Assembly debate begins on September 25, India is expected to strongly raise the issue of terrorism emanating from the Pakistani soil.

The Swaraj-Qureshi meeting will be the first engagement at this level since January 2016 when New Delhi halted the dialogue with Islamabad in the aftermath of the Pathankot terror attack — in which seven security personnel were killed — for which India holds Pakistan-based groups responsible.

Indo-Pak ties have nose-dived since then in view of a number of terror strikes by Pakistan-based groups, which India retaliated by carrying out “surgical strikes” in September 2016 across the line of control (LoC).

India has been maintaining that terror and talks cannot go together. “I must distinguish between a meeting and dialogue. This does not indicate any change in policy as far as our stand on terrorism and cross-border terrorism is concerned,” the MEA spokesperson said at a media briefing ahead of the Swaraj-Qureshi meeting. The date for the two foreign ministers’ meeting was being finalised by the permanent missions of the two countries in New York, he said, adding that the agenda for the meeting is yet to be finalised.

Ms Swaraj is scheduled to leave for New York on September 22 morning and return on September 30.

The last foreign ministers-level talks were held during Ms Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad in December 2015 to attend the Heart of Asia Summit, where she had met the then Pakistan foreign minister Sartaj Aziz.

After the meeting, the two sides had announced resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue under the comprehensive bilateral format, but the initiative did not take off after Pakistan-based terror groups attacked the Pathankot air base in Punjab.

Mr Kumar said that Ms Swaraj would also attend the Saarc foreign ministers’ meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York. India agreed to Swaraj-Qureshi meeting following a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, seeking a ministerial interaction on the sidelines of the UNGA.

Tags: shah mahmood qureshi, line of control, un general assembly
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi