TASHKENT — Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on Friday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Ufa in Russia, media reports said.
Though India's external affairs ministry last week refused to say anything on the matter, a likely meeting between the two leaders was being contemplated during the SCO summit for many months.
Both India and Pakistan are observers of the China-led grouping and have applied to become full members. The 15th SCO summit in Ufa is likely to see the two neighbours being absorbed as full members.
With both Modi and Sharif to attend the multi-lateral event, a passing meeting between the two cannot be ruled out as both leaders will be in the same room. But a full-fledged "pull-aside" meeting on the sidelines is also very likely.
Ties between India and Pakistan have soured over the past few months, especially over the border firings and Islamabad's raising the Kashmir issue at the UN and other fora.
However, Modi did call up Sharif to greet him for Ramadan. The two countries also helped evacuate each other's nationals from Yemen.
The Pakistani media has also been agog on a likely meeting between Modi and Sharif, whose first interaction in May last year began on a promising note, but matters then went downhill in the wake of continuing border firings and the Kashmir issue.
On his first visit to Central Asian countries, Modi held talks with Uzbek President Islam Karimov on key bilateral and regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan as the two countries inked three pacts to boost cooperation between their foreign offices and in the field of culture and tourism.
Modi, who arrived here in the Uzbek capital on the first leg of his eight-day visit to Central Asia and Russia, was received at the airport by his counterpart Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev and was accorded a ceremonial welcome.
During the talks, Modi and Karimov discussed ways to enhance strategic, economic and energy ties apart from reviewing key regional issues including the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.
Addressing a joint press event, Modi said,"I have begun my journey in Uzbekistan underlining its importance for India, not just in this region, but also in Asia. President Karimov and I discussed various initiatives to further enhance connectivity between India and Uzbekistan."
He said they also discussed international and regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan and reiterated the importance of peace and stability in the country.
And in this context, Modi said both the leaders talked about the rising threat of extremism and terrorism in the "extended neighbourhood" of the two countries.
Noting that in recent years, India and Uzbekistan have built a strategic partnership on the foundation of mutual respect and shared interests, Modi said he conveyed his keen interest to sustain regular high level dialogue between the two sides.
"I briefed President about the International North South Transport Corridor and proposed that Uzbekistan consider becoming a member," Modi said.