Sushma Swaraj Arrives In Pakistan, Will Meet Sharif, Aziz

08/12/2015 7:53 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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BENGALURU, INDIA - APRIL 3: BJP leader Sushma Swaraj during the BJP two-day National Executive meeting at Hotel Ashok, on April 3, 2015 in Bengaluru, India. (Photo by Hemant Mishra/Mint via Getty Images)

ISLAMABAD -- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today arrived here on a two-day visit, a first by a Minister in the Modi Government, during which she will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Immediately after arriving here, she said relationship between the two countries should be better and that she will hold talks with Pakistani leaders to find ways to improve bilateral ties.

"I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward," said Swaraj, who is here to lead the Indian delegation at the 'Heart of Asia' 5th Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan tomorrow.

She refused to share what she would be discussing with Pakistani leaders, but said, "What will happen during the talks will be known after meeting."

Invited by Pakistan to attend the multilateral meet on Afghanistan, Swaraj will attend the conference tomorrow before holding talks with Aziz who said the focus would be on the resumption of composite dialogue process.

"Heart of Asia conference is very important for India because it is associated with Afghanistan. That is why I have come here to participate. Since it is happening in Pakistan it is necessary and appropriate for me to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hold talks with my counterpart Sartaz Aziz to talk about improving the bilateral ties and take them forward," Swaraj said.

Adopting a cautious approach over the agenda of talks between Swaraj and Aziz, Indian officials said they will see how the meeting goes and if there will be any point of convergence.

Swaraj's visit comes after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok on Sunday, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the "constructive" engagement.

Aziz had said yesterday that the deadlock in Indo-Pak ties had eased to some extent.

During his talks with Swaraj, Aziz said he would discuss various matters with focus on resumption of composite dialogue process between the two countries.

Swaraj's trip came three years after former external affairs minister S M Krishna's visit here in 2012 when the two sides inked a visa liberalisation pact.

Swaraj is accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who was also present during the four-hour-long meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Janjua in the Thai capital.

The joint statement after the meeting of NSAs said the talks were held pursuant to a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the climate meet in Paris, rejecting the version given by the Indian side then that it was a mere "exchange of courtesies".

Sharif had told Pakistani media that he had a "good meeting" with Modi and "doors of dialogue should open".

Before Paris, Modi and Sharif had held bilateral meeting in Russian city of Ufa where they decided that their NSAs would meet to discuss all "terror-related" issues.

However, Pakistan had called-off Aziz's visit after New Delhi had made it clear that he would not be allowed to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders in the Indian capital.

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