NEW DELHI: Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers will meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next week, the government said today.
“It is a meeting, not resumption of dialogue,” asserted foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. New Delhi had agreed to a meeting between Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Pakistan’s request and after their prime minister Imran Khan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We have just agreed to the meeting. The agenda is not finalized,” Kumar said. The government, however, rejected Imran Khan’s proposal for a SAARC summit in Pakistan, saying the atmosphere is not conducive. “Let’s distinguish between meeting and dialogue. This doesn’t change our stand on terrorism,” said Kumar.
Imran Khan, who took charge as Pakistan prime minister last month, had written to PM Modi asking that India and Pakistan resume dialogue that has been suspended since 2015. In the letter addressing the PM as “Modi Sahab”, Imran Khan also suggested a meeting between the foreign ministers and said Pakistan “remains ready” to discuss terrorism. The foreign ministers could explore the way forward, he said, adding that the SAARC Summit in Islamabad “will offer and opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to re-start the stalled dialogue process.” Rejecting the SAARC suggestion, Kumar said: “We have agreed to their request for a meeting but do not read too much into it.” The government stated that resumption of dialogue is not on the cards. “Talks and terror can’t go together,” government said, reasserting New Delhi’s stand.
Details of the letter dated September 14 emerged a day after a soldier’s throat was slit by Pakistani troops at the International Border, after which the Border Security Force lodged a strong protest with the Pak Rangers. Hostilities between the two countries escalated with a series of attacks, especially the terror attack on an army camp in Uri that left 19 soldiers dead. India later launched surgical strikes across the Line of Control to target Pakistani terror camps.