Sartaj confirms to visit India on August 23

WEB DESK: Pakistan’s foreign policy chief will visit India for security talks on August 23, he said on Thursday, in the rivals’ first attempt in months to restart efforts to improve ties despite intermittent violence on their border. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, agreed to a new round of talks when they met in Russia last month.

As part of the rapprochement effort, the nuclear-armed neighbours agreed that India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, would hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz. Since the prime ministers’ meeting, however, a series of militant attacks and border skirmishes have poisoned the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, Aziz said he would be travelling to the Indian capital, New Delhi, next week and he hoped the talks would at least break the ice on some of a range of outstanding issues. “Our prime minister has always believed in dialogue as far as India is concerned,” Aziz told a news conference in Islamabad. “So I’ll be going there this month.”

Tension tends to increase ahead of attempts at dialogue, with analysts and diplomats on both sides saying the attacks are engineered by hard-line elements within the two countries who oppose rapprochement. The countries are approaching the talks with starkly different expectations. While India sees the meeting as an opportunity for it to prove its long-held view that militants get support from over its western border, Pakistan wants the dialogue to be broader and form the basis for deeper engagement.