The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday conveyed that EAM Sushma Swaraj will meet Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of UNGA. Speaking on Pakistan Prime Minister’s Imran Khan’s letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar confirmed that on the request of Pakistani side, Swaraj will meet with Qureshi on the sidelines of UNGA. The MEA also insisted that this meeting shouldn’t be confused with a dialogue with Pakistan.
“I can confirm that on the request of Pakistani side, Sushma Swaraj will meet Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of UNGA. This shouldn’t be confused with dialogue, This doesn’t change India’s stand on Pakistan and terrorism,” said the MEA spokesperson.
“This does not indicate we will change something in our policy regarding terrorism,” he added.
The MEA also said the agenda of the meeting hasn’t been decided yet and that “at this state, we have just agreed to the meeting.”
“Missions of Indian and Pakistan will work out how the meeting will take place,” the MEA added.
The MEA also said that Imran Khan’s letter was in response to PM Modi’s letter to him, which he had written to him, congratulating him on being sworn-in as Pakistan PM.
“We are aware that PM Modi had written to Imran Khan to congratulate him. Imran Khan replied in response to that letter. We received it on 17th of September,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
However, the MEA denied the possibility of India attending the SAARC summit, saying, “For SAARC, the atmosphere is not conducive. Under the shadow of terrorism, SAARC summit can’t be held.”
In the letter, Imran Khan had written that the SAARC summit will offer an opportunity for India to visit Pakistan and to restart the stalled dialogue process.
Dear Modi Sahab,
I wish to thank you for your warm greetings and best wishes on my assumption of charge as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
I endorse your sentiment that the only way forward for our two countries lies in "constructive engagement". It was in this spirit that Pakistan's Minister of Law and Information attended the funeral of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. Mr Vajpayee contributed in trying to bring a positive change in our bilateral relations and was also a major proponent of a strong SAARC for building bridges and developing ties.
Pakistan and India have an undeniably challenging relationship. We, however, owe it to our peoples, especially the future generations, to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, to bridge differences and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. Siachin and Sir Creek also need close attention to move towards resolution.
Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism.
Discussions on trade, people to people contacts, religious tourism, humanitarian issues are also important.
Building on the mutual desire for peace between our two countries, I wish to propose a meeting between Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the External Affairs Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC Foreign Ministers at the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York. They can explore the way forward, especially the holding of the SAARC Council of Ministers followed by the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. The summit will offer an opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to restart the stalled dialogue process.
I look forward to working with you for the benefit of the people of both our countries.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Earlier in the day, Republic TV had accessed the letter in which Pakistani PM sought a meeting between EAM Swaraj and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) scheduled to be held starting September 25.