WEB DESK: India’s External Affairs Minister Sushmahere Tuesday with a message of “improving and taking forward” Pakistan-India relations.
a two-day visit to attend the 5th Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference and will also hold meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday (today).
“I am looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and my counterpart Sartaj Aziz,” she told reporters upon her arrival at Nur Khan airport where she was received by senior officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan T.C. Raghavan.
Asked about the “message” she brought from New Delhi, Swaraj said the message that she is going to convey is to put the bilateral relation on the right tracks and take these forward. “I am here for putting the ties on the right track and move forward,” she said.
It would be the third bilateral engagement at the highest level between the two countries in less than 10 days, starting from the meeting between two premiers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi in Paris which was followed by a meeting between national security advisers Lieutenant General Nasir Khan Janjua (Retd) and Ajit Doval in Bangkok.
Swaraj is here to lead the Indian delegation at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan. She refused to share what exactly she would be discussing with Pakistani leadership, saying things will be known once the meetings are held.
“Heart of Asia conference is very important for India because it is associated with Afghanistan. That’s why I have come here to participate…Since it [conference] is happening in Pakistan, so it is necessary and appropriate for me to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hold talks with my counterpart Sartaz Aziz,” she added.
According to Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial conference on Wednesday (today).
President Ghani is arriving on Wednesday (today). “We are looking forward to the participation of high-ranking delegations from 14 Participating States, 17 Supporting Countries and 12 International and Regional Organizations. Foreign Ministers from 10 countries have confirmed participation in the conference,” he said.
Foreign ministers of India, Iran, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Latvia have already arrived while a total of 44 countries and international organizations including UN are participating in the conference.
The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process was established in 2011 on the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey. The main objective of the process is to foster efforts for regional cooperation and connectivity with a view to promoting long-term peace and stability as well as progress and development in Afghanistan, and the region.
The Fifth Ministerial Conference is expected to adopt a forward looking Islamabad Declaration entitled “Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region”. The Declaration would underline commitments from the Heart of Asia countries and partners for sustained efforts towards promoting peace and security, economic development and connectivity in the region.
Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz hosted a dinner for the delegates of the conference which was also attended by his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. According to the tentative schedule, Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani will address a joint news conference at the conclusion of the conference at the 1500 hours today.