Meeting with Jaishankar not ‘finalised or requested,’ says Pak FM


PTI, Mar 29, 2021, 12:27 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said no meeting has been ”finalized or requested” so far with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference on Tuesday at Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, according to a media report on Monday.

The participation of both the ministers at the conference has sparked speculation of a possible meeting between the two leaders amidst recent peace overtures from the Pakistan Army.

Qureshi on Sunday told the Dawn newspaper that “no meeting (between him and Jaishankar) has been finalized or requested.”

When asked about media speculation that India and Pakistan have been quietly negotiating for the full resumption of diplomatic relations, Qureshi said, “No such decision yet.”

Jaishankar last week also did not give a specific reply to questions on whether he will meet Qureshi on the sidelines of the conference.

”My scheduling is in progress. So far I do not think any such meeting (is scheduled),” he said at the India Economic Conclave in New Delhi on March 26.

While announcing his participation, the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement on Friday said Jaishankar is expected to meet leaders of other participating countries on the sidelines of the 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) ministerial conference.

The last meeting between Qureshi and an Indian external affairs minister took place in May 2019 in Bishkek on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting. Late Sushma Swaraj was then holding the portfolio of the external affairs minister.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Sunday said Qureshi would hold “consul­tations with key regional and international partners” on the sidelines of the conference.

India and Pakistan are without high commissioners in each other’s capital – New Delhi and Islamabad, respectively – since the relations between the two countries nosedived after India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories in August 2019.

On March 18, Pakistan’s powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said it was time for India and Pakistan to ”bury the past and move forward.”

India has said it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility, and violence and that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility.

The home-IP ministerial conference is part of the Istanbul Process – a regional initiative on security and cooperation for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan – that was launched on November 2, 2011, in Turkey.

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