Sushma arrives in Nepal for SAARC meet; will meet Sartaj Aziz

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Mar 16, 2016 18:01 IST
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is welcomed by Nepal’s deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa on her arrival in Pokhara on Wednesday. (Twitter)

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to meet Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers in the Nepalese resort town of Pokhara on Thursday.

Swaraj flew to Pokhara, 200 km northwest of Kathmandu, on Wednesday afternoon in a Mi-17 helicopter via Gorakhpur, and was welcomed by Nepal’s deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa.

Swaraj and her counterparts from SAARC countries will take part in Thursday’s meeting to discuss progress made on plans prepared at the last summit of the regional body at Kathmandu in 2014.

She is also scheduled to meet Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on the margins of the meeting.

“We are preparing groundwork for the meeting by consulting with the Pakistani side and Swaraj and Aziz are to hold talks after the meeting of the foreign ministers,” a senior Indian diplomat told Hindustan Times.

Besides discussing bilateral issues, Aziz will hand over an invitation from Sharif for the 19th SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad later this year.

Aziz, who too reached Pokhara on Wednesday, told reporters that he will discuss all issues with Swaraj. He hoped that the meeting would go well.

Foreign secretaries of all SAARC states on Wednesday discussed ways to implement plans to improve connectivity, counter terrorism, and other issues.

Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry exchanged pleasantries on Tuesday on the sidelines of the formal meeting.

“There were no structured or formal talks, but they interacted during the event and also exchanged pleasantries,” he said.

This is the first time Jaishankar and Chaudhry came face to face since planned talks between the foreign secretaries were cancelled after the terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase in January.

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