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No decision on Indo-Pak talks on sidelines of SAARC meet

world Updated: Mar 10, 2016 13:37 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times

India’s foreign secretary S Jaishankar (left) holds talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry in Islamabad in March 2015. (AFP File Photo)

The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will be in Nepal’s Pokhara tourist town next week for a SAARC meet but there is no word on whether they will hold talks on the sidelines of the gathering.

Ahead of a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers during March 15-17, joint secretaries and foreign secretaries of the member countries will hold preparatory meetings in Pokhara, located 200 km northwest of Kathmandu.

Officials said no decision had been made on whether Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar would hold separate talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry on the sidelines of the meet.

“Speculations are always there when Indian and Pakistani dignitaries attend such a meet. But nothing has been finalised yet or conveyed to us,” a senior diplomat at the Indian embassy here told Hindustan Times.

The two foreign secretaries were expected to hold talks in January but the meeting was cancelled in the aftermath of the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, which was blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed. Both sides haven’t talked since.

Rumours are rife that the foreign secretaries could use the Pokhara meet to discuss the possibility of resuming bilateral talks and deliberate on issues for the SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad later this year.

The meeting in Pokhara will also be attended by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who will fly directly to Pokhara to participate in deliberations on March 17.

“Details of her visit have not been chalked out. She is expected to spend 24 to 36 hours in Pokhara and return directly to New Delhi from there,” the senior diplomat said.

Swaraj visited Nepal in February, when she led a delegation of political leaders to pay respect to late prime minister Sushil Koirala, who also headed the Nepali Congress party.