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Swaraj, Aziz engage in animated discussion at SAARC dinner

Swaraj, Aziz engage in animated discussion at SAARC dinner
Though details of their discussion was not known, Indian officials described it as a “social chitchat” between the ministers who were seated alongside.

The two ministers are also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting here on Thursday, which was sought by Aziz to extend the invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the SAARC summit, to be hosted by Pakistan later this year. Swaraj is on a three-day visit to the Himalayan nation. She arrived here on a Mi17 chopper from Gorkhpur in UP. 

This is the second time the two ministers are meeting since December last, when Swaraj had travelled to Islamabad for a multilateral meeting and had also held extensive bilateral talks with Aziz, after which both the countries announced resumption of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue.

On Thursday, Swaraj is expected to nudge Pakistan to take action against the perpetrators of the Pathankot airbase attack, which came days after Prime Minister Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore on December 25 last year to attend the 66th birthday of his counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Choudhry were also seen sitting together at another table during the dinner hosted by SAARC Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa.

Swaraj’s another key meeting will be with the Nepali leadership. During his meeting with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Nepali Prime Minister KP Oli had said Nepal’s “internal problem” will be resolved soon as talks with the agitating Madhesi parties were heading towards a “positive direction”. Oli had also sought India’s support in achieving economic prosperity.

On the SAARC front, India has been pushing for greater connectivity and integration. India also strongly supports deeper financial integration of the region and for achieving the South Asian Economic Union.

Ready to discuss all issues with Swaraj, says Aziz 
Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday said he is willing to discuss all issues, including the Pathankot terror attack, with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj here in Nepal.

Aziz also expressed hope that the Pakistani Special Investigation Team (SIT) will be able to visit India soon to carry forward the probe into the attack at the Air Force base in Pathankot in January.

“Don’t worry. The main purpose of the meeting, of course, is to handover the invitation for the SAARC Summit. And then anything she wants to discuss, we will discuss,” he told reporters here in the Nepali resort town as he arrived for the 37th SAARC Council of Ministers Meeting.

Asked if he was positive of an outcome of his meeting with Swaraj, Aziz said, “We will tell you after the meeting. We are always open for positive outcome”. He said Pakistan has been “responding” to the Pathankot issue. 

“We are responding on that and you know it. We are talking on all subjects,” he said.

Asked when can one expect Pakistani SIT in India, he replied, “very soon Insha Allah”.

Swaraj and Aziz are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the SAARC meeting on Thursday, during which the External Affairs Minister is expected to nudge Pakistan to take action in the aftermath of the airbase attack, which came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore on December 25 last year.
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