India, Pakistan foreign ministers’ meeting in Nepal confirmed

  • Jayanth Jacob
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2016 09:40 IST
Pakistan Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz (R) greets external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in Islamabad for the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference held in December. (AFP photo)

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz will meet in Nepal this week, the first ministerial engagement confirmed on Monday after the Pathankot airbase attack derailed talks between the two neighbours.

Seven soldiers were killed when suspected Pakistani militants laid siege to the Indian Air Force facility in the border state of Punjab on January 2. Though Islamabad has registered a case, it has not given the dates for a visit by a Pakistani probe team, vital to the investigation as well as well as bilateral ties.

The Swaraj-Aziz meeting will see the Pakistani foreign minister handover the invitation from Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif for his Indian counter part Narendra Modi.

Visiting Pakistan in December, Swaraj had said Modi would attend the Saarc summit likely to be held in November. Swaraj and Aziz are expected to meet in Pokhara on March 17, the final day of a two-day foreign ministers meeting of the South Asian Association of Regional Conference (Saarc).

Aziz will meet foreign ministers of all member countries to invite them to the 19th Saarc summit Islamabad will host this year, the Pakistani foreign office spokesperson said. Indian officials played down the meeting, saying Aziz would meet all his Saarc counterparts.

But, it is important on at least two counts. It comes ahead of the nuclear security summit in Washington where Modi and Sharif are likely to meet. An interaction between foreign secretaries S Jaishankar and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, who will accompany Swaraj and Aziz, will signal a step forward getting ties back on track.

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