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Sushma Swaraj will meet Pakistan foreign minister on the sidelines of UNGA, confirms MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Thursday that a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

"Our prime minister congratulated the new Pakistan prime minister through a letter. The Pakistan foreign minister, in response, wrote a letter to the external affairs minister in response to that letter."

"They reiterated their proposal for a meeting of the external affairs minister and Pakistan's foreign minister at the sidelines of the UNGA," Raveesh Kumar, MEA spokesperson, said at a press conference in New Delhi.

 Sushma Swaraj will meet Pakistan foreign minister on the sidelines of UNGA, confirms MEA

File image of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

"We have decided that the meeting at the sidelines of the UNGA will take place. The date will be decided through consultations," Kumar further said.

"I must distinguish between a meeting and a dialogue. This is just a meeting which we have agreed to after a request from Pakistani side. This does not change our stand on terrorism and cross-border terrorism," the MEA spokesperson added.

"On SAARC, our policy has been consistent. The atmosphere is not conducive for this summit. Other countries have also felt that it is diffuclt to attend the SAARC summit which is to be hosted by Pakistan," he said.

Reiterating that the meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi did not imply a resumption of talks between India and Pakistan, Kumar said, "This meeting is taking place on the request of the Pakistani side. We have not finalised the agenda of this meeting."

He also called the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan along the International Border in Jammu a "barbaric incident which defies logic and is against international norms."

Earlier, the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal had said it is "engaged" with India to facilitate a bilateral meeting between Qureshi and Swaraj in New York. Both Swaraj and Qureshi will be in New York next week to attend the UNGA.

The India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years following a spate of terror attacks in India by Pakistan-based terror groups. India has not been holding official talks with Pakistan following the attacks.

The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Modi. The 2016 SAARC Summit was to be held in Islamabad.

But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on 18 September that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to "prevailing circumstances" and stepped up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Sep 20, 2018 16:42:18 IST