Suspense continues over Indo-Pak talks in Nepal

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2016 18:01 IST
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Nepalese counterpart Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli (left) during Oli’s visit to India in February this year. (REUTERS FILE)

A cloud of uncertainty continues to loom over talks between Indian and Pakistani delegates on the margins of the SAARC council of ministers meeting in Nepal this week.

The meeting, being held to review progress since the last SAARC summit in Kathmandu, started in the resort town of Pokhara on Monday with the meeting of joint secretaries and will end on Thursday.

Foreign secretaries of member states will participate in a meeting of the standing committee of SAARC on Wednesday, ahead of the meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for the final day.

Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar is in Kathmandu and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will reach Pokhara on Wednesday.

Amid speculations of a meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan in Pokhara, senior Indian diplomats said on Tuesday nothing has been finalised as yet.

The spokesman of Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Monday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz will meet the foreign ministers of all member countries to invite them to the SAARC summit in Islamabad later this year.

However, the spokesman made no specific reference to a meeting between Aziz and Swaraj.

“There is no confirmation yet of any meeting between foreign secretary Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart or any talks between the external affairs minister and Aziz,” an Indian diplomat said.

A planned meeting of the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan in January was cancelled after the terror attack on Pathankot airbase., which was blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Jaishankar last visited Kathmandu in September, days ahead of the promulgation of Nepal’s new Constitution. met He met several senior politicians and ministers on Tuesday.

Besides meeting Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and newly elected Nepali Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba, he also held discussions with United Democratic Madhesi Front leaders who are opposing the new statute.

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