Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has no confirmation so far of Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri’s plans to attend his daughter’s wedding here in the last week of November.
“Kasuri and I have been very good friends. We were together at Cambridge’s Trinity Hall from 1961 to 1963. He is welcome and will always be welcome to visit us at any time,” Aiyar told the Hindustan Times. But he said Kasuri has not yet confirmed whether he will attend the November 26 wedding, followed by the reception the next day.
In an interview to the Press Trust of India in Islamabad, Kasuri too recalled his long association with Aiyar while disclosing that he might make a “private visit” to Delhi to attend the wedding. “Mani has spoken to me. We have been friends since our Cambridge days and he attended my son’s wedding in Lahore,” he said.
The Pakistani minister also hoped he would get to meet his counterpart Pranab Mukherjee, whom he has already congratulated on his new assignment: “If he is present, we will meet. We have not yet planned (the meeting) but I will be happy to meet him. I hope he will be present at the (wedding) reception.”
In the year-long interregnum between Mukherjee’s appointment and Natwar Singh’s exit in November 2005, Kasuri often said the absence of a Cabinet-level minister in Delhi had marginalised his role in bilateral interactions.
From all available indications, Kasuri’s visit, if it does come about, will need some coordination between the two governments. By the time he is here, the November 13-14 foreign secretary-level talks will have happened and Delhi might opt to avail the opportunity for a meeting between the two foreign ministers.
In the ongoing composite dialogue process, the ministers meet at the conclusion of each round. Kasuri was in Delhi at the end of the first round and Natwar Singh visited Islamabad after the second, when the two sides announced the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus-link.