The US, India and Pakistan are “quietly exploring” the possibility of a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the margins of a nuclear security summit in Washington next month, according to a Pakistani media report on Friday.
Modi and Sharif have accepted US President Barack Obama’s invitation to attend the summit he is hosting on March 31 and April 1.
“The chances are strong, very strong,” an unnamed senior official was quoted as saying by the influential Dawn newspaper. “But you know the history of India-Pakistan talks, you cannot be certain about an event until it has happened.”
This will be the first time Modi and Sharif will be attending the nuclear security summit that Obama initiated in 2010. The summit is aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The first summit was held in Washington in April 2010. The second summit was organised in South Korea in 2012 and the third in The Hague in 2014.
Since this is Obama’s final year in office, the US administration is pushing hard for concrete results during the fourth summit. US officials have recently expressed concern at the proliferation of small nuclear weapons in South Asia.
“We’re concerned both about the security of those nuclear weapons, and that’s been a common refrain in our discussions with Pakistan,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said while responding to a question about the increase in Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons.
Sharif and Modi last met in December, when the Indian leader made a surprise visit to Lahore to wish his Pakistani counterpart on his birthday while flying from Kabul to New Delhi.
However, ties went into a tailspin when members of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked the Pathankot airbase days later, killing seven security personnel.