Pakistan, India FMs to meet on UNGA’s sidelines


Observer Report

New Delhi

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj will meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York later this month, said the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson on Thursday.
Earlier this month, Indian PM Narendra Modi, in a message to Prime Minister Imran Khan, had stated that he seeks “meaningful and constructive” engagement between the two neighbours.
In reciprocation, PM Khan recently reached out to the Indian premier, officially extending the offer to resume peace talks.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs confirmed PM Khan’s approach today, with its spokesperson Raveesh Kumar saying: “The letter we have received was a response to that letter which was handed over to us by Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India on Sept 17. “Another letter was handed over from Pakistani FM to our external affairs minister, basically reiterating the PM of Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between the external affairs minister and the Pakistani FM.
“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between the external affairs minister and the Pakistani foreign minister will take place on the sidelines of the UNGA at a mutually convenient date and time.”
He, however, stressed that the planned meeting should not be misconstrued as a dialogue.
“I must differentiate between meeting and a dialogue,” said the Indian official. “This is a meeting and not dialogue. This is a meeting which we have agreed to, based on a request which we have got from the Pakistani side.”
During yesterday’s weekly briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Faisal had confirmed that PM Khan has written a letter to Indian PM Modi, calling for the resumption of the peace dialogue between the two countries.
“PM has responded to PM Modi, in a positive spirit, reciprocating his sentiments,” shared Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Twitter, without specifying whether the communication was via a letter. “Let’s talk and resolve all issues. We await formal response from India.”
Last month, the then prime minister-elect Imran Khan in his victory speech had expressed his desire to “improve relations with India, if their leadership also wants it”.
“If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start,” he had said.
Subsequently, Indian premier Modi had telephoned him to convey that Delhi was “ready to enter a new a new era of relations with Pakistan”.
Modi had said both countries should adopt a joint strategy for progress in bilateral ties. The PTI chairman had expressed same views during his first meeting with the Indian envoy after the July 25 election and had pushed for the “resumption of talks between Pakistan and India”.
Last month, following a visit by Navjot Singh Sidhu to Pakistan for the prime minister’s oath-taking ceremony, PM Khan took to Twitter to once again invite India to dialogue and pursue peace, terming it the “best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent”.
“To move forward, Pakistan and India must dialogue and resolve their conflicts, including Kashmir,” the premier was quoted as saying.
“The best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading.”

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