Foreign secretaries’ meeting: Busy schedule holding up bilateral dialogue, says report

Pathankot attack to feature heavily in talks, indicates Indian official

News Desk January 23, 2016

A week after Pakistan and India postponed the planned foreign secretary-level talks through mutual agreement, Indian officials said they were resolving scheduling problems on another date for the dialogue, The Hindu reported on Friday.

“We are resolving the scheduling problem as both the Foreign Secretaries have busy diplomatic schedule in the coming days but we are confident of finding a convenient date for their meeting soon,” a senior Indian government official said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar were due to meet on January 15. In the wake of a deadly attack on an Indian air base in Pathankot on January 2, the two mutually decided to put off the meeting without announcing fresh dates.

The talks were supposed to have finalised a road map for a series of meetings between officials of the two countries to discuss several bilateral issues including peace and security, Kashmir, trade and commerce, Siachen and Sir Creek.

The meeting had been announced after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a surprise visit to Pakistan on December 25, 2015.  The meeting was supposed to further the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue which the two hostile but hyphenated neighbours had announced on December 10, 2015, when Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Peace Process.

The Indian government official told The Hindu that the foreign secretaries of the two nuclear-armed neighbours are expected to meet soon.

This was echoed by the Foreign Office in Islamabad.

“Meetings between Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India will be held in the very near future. Both sides are in contact in this regard,” Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said on Thursday.

While the details of the meeting’s agenda has not been announced, the Indian government official said that terrorism, especially the Pathankot attack, is expected to feature heavily in it

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2016.


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