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PM Modi to visit Pakistan next year: Sushma Swaraj

Islamabad: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan next year, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Wednesday.

Modi will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit, Swaraj told the media.

This will be the first prime ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the South Asian neighbour in January 2004 to attend that year’s Saarc summit.

The foreign minister said she would accompany Modi during his visit, Geo TV reported.

Swaraj is in Islamabad to participate in the Heart of Asia Conference on peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Swaraj’s is the first ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since the visit of then external affairs minister S M Krishna in 2012.

At the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Ufa, Russia, in July, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had invited Modi to attend the Saarc summit next year which the latter had accepted.

After the Ufa meeting, both the prime ministers directed their foreign secretaries to initiate the process of renewing talks, including meetings between the national security advisors of the two countries.

However, NSA-level talks between Doval and then Pakistani NSA Sartaz Aziz scheduled in New Delhi in August were cancelled after the Pakistan high commissioner in New Delhi insisted on inviting Hurriyat leaders for a reception in honour of Aziz.

The two prime ministers again had an impromptu meeting on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties (CoP-21) climate summit in Paris on November 30.

Both leaders were seen warmly shaking hands at the summit venue as world leaders converged for the opening of the event.

The two leaders then sat on the same sofa and were seen engaging in an animated discussion.

Following this, on December 6, National Security Advisors (NSAs) Ajit Doval of India and Naseer Khan Janjua of Pakistan held a meeting in Bangkok which was also attended by Foreign Secretaries S Jaishanker and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said the two NSAs held discussions “in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere”.

According to the statemernt, the NSAs “were guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia.

“Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues including tranquillity along the LoC (Line of Control).

“It was agreed to carry forward the constrictive engagement,” said the statement.

The LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.(IANS)

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