Can discuss all issues, says Aziz ahead of Indo-Pak meet

RSTV Bureau
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj being welcomed by Nepal's DPM/Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj being welcomed by Nepal’s DPM/Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to meet Sartaj Aziz, the Foreign Affairs Advisor to Pak PM on the sidelines of the 37th SAARC summit in Pokhara in Nepal today.

Ahead of the meeting, Aziz said that he is willing to discuss all issues with India.

“Don’t worry. The main purpose of the meeting, of course, is to handover the invitation for the SAARC Summit. And then anything she wants to discuss, we will discuss,” he told reporters.

When asked whether the issue of Pathankot attack will be discussed, Aziz said, “We are responding on that and you know it. We are
talking on all subjects,” he said.

Both leaders met for a brief chat on Wednesday night during a dinner reception hosted by SAARC Secretary General Ajay Bahadur Thapa on Wednesday night.

“It was a small talk, we are meeting tomorrow, ” said Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Advisor to Pak PM.

Sources say Swaraj is expected to nudge Pakistan to take action in the aftermath of the air base attack, which came just a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore on December 25 last year.

Incidentally, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry have met each other at least thrice, without a proper structured meeting. This is the first time Jaishankar and Chaudhry came face to face since planned talks between the foreign secretaries were put off after the terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase.

Swaraj arrived in Pokhara on Wednesday for a three-day visit to attend the SAARC Ministerial meeting during which she will push ahead India’s “neighbourhood first” policy and review the progress of decisions taken by the grouping last year.

She held an hour-long meeting with the Nepalese Prime Minister K P Oli and discussed key bilateral issues. Swaraj is Pokhara, Nepal for the 37th SAARC Foreign ministerial-level meeting.

Though Indian officials described the meeting as a routine call-on, even they were surprised that the meeting lasted over an hour.

The meeting between Swaraj and Oli comes nearly a month after the Nepalese Prime Minister’s visit to India.

Bilateral ties between India and Nepal faced sagged in the recent past due to the months-long Madhesi agitation and subsequent road-blocks which had put the Nepalese government in a spot.

(With inputs from PTI)