Sushma, Aziz exchange pleasantries during dinner hosted by Nepal PM

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Mar 16, 2016 21:56 IST
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistani foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz talk during a dinner hosted by Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. (ANI Photo)

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz met on Wednesday during a dinner hosted by Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli ahead of a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers at Pokhara.

The two exchanged pleasantries and sat next to each other during the dinner in the resort town located 200 km northwest of the capital Kathmandu.

Footage on television showed Swaraj and Aziz shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries. They then sat next to each other and spoke for some time.

Foreign secretary S Jaishankar sat with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry at another table nearby.

Swaraj and Aziz reached Pokhara on Wednesday afternoon.

A formal meeting between Swaraj and Aziz is scheduled for Thursday after the conclusion of the SAARC meeting. The foreign ministers of the grouping will discuss progress made since the last SAARC summit held at Kathmandu in 2014.

“The meeting between the external affairs minister and Aziz will take place on Thursday, soon after the SAARC meet,” a senior Indian diplomat present at the venue told Hindustan Times.

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

Aziz told reporters on his arrival in Pokhara that he would discuss all issues with Swaraj.

Swaraj flew from Gorakhpur to Pokhara in a Mi-17 helicopter and was welcomed by Nepal’s deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa.

Foreign secretaries of the SAARC states held discussions on Wednesday on ways to implement plans to improve connectivity and counter terrorism, as well as other issues.

Jaishankar and Chaudhry had exchanged pleasantries on the sidelines of a meeting on Tuesday. “There were no structured or formal talks, but they interacted during the event and also exchanged pleasantries,” a diplomat said.

This was the first time Jaishankar and Chaudhry came face to face since a planned meeting of the foreign secretaries was cancelled after the terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase, which was blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.

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