Amid speculation about a possible meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Kathmandu, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said that Islamabad desires peace with New Delhi and underlined that the two neighbours can resolve their disputes through dialogue and negotiations.
“Pakistan desires peace with India but its desire should not be taken as its weakness,” Asif said in Islamabad. Mr Asif stressed that soon after assuming office, Mr Sharif had expressed his desire for peace with India and has repeated his intention to build bridges with India many a time in the last few months. “This desire has been misconceived by the other side,” he said.
He blamed Indian troops for ‘unprovoked firing’ at the Line of Control and International Border that has been a cause of shimmering tensions between the two estranged neighbours.
In Kathmandu, speculation continued to swirl about a meeting between Mr Modi and Mr Sharif on the sidelines of the SAARC summit, with both sides maintaining studied ambivalence on the issue. Both Mr Modi and Mr Sharif arrived in Kathmandu November 25 for the 18th SAARC summit, but there is no indication yet whether they will meet to defrost tensions and map the way forward for the troubled India-Pakistan relations that have plunged to a new low following unrelenting firing by border troops and Pakistan’s determined diplomatic offensive to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
Amid media frenzy, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s PM’s chief foreign policy adviser Sartaz Aziz exchanged pleasantries in a pull-aside tete-a-tete on the sidelines of the SAARC Council of Ministers’ meeting November 25. Officials cautioned not to read too much into exchange of courtesies.
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