India, Pakistan top diplomats to meet next month

modi-sharifBuilding upon the first meeting between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New Delhi two months ago, the foreign secretaries of the two countries are set to meet in Islamabad August 25 to explore ways to revive the stalled engagement between them.

“The two foreign secretaries had, sometime ago, a telephonic discussion, and as part of that discussion they also discussed how they should move forward,” Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry, said in New Delhi July 23.

During talks on May 27, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan had directed their foreign secretaries to stay in touch and explore the roadmap for bilateral relations.

The spokesperson, however, voiced concerns about repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan’s armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir. “Since there have been incidence of firing across the international boundary, Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh used the opportunity to raise these issues. She recalled that incidence of this nature will impede the positive work that the political leaders of both the countries wish to undertake,” said the spokesperson.

The issue of ceasefire violations is expected to figure in discussions between India’s Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry next month.

During a discussion in Rajya Sabha July 22, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had claimed that Pakistan violated ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir 19 times since the new government took over. He stressed that the Indian side retaliated appropriately in each case.

“Our head has not bowed… This government will not let our heads bow,” Jaitley had said replying to questions in Rajya Sabha.

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