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Heart of Asia conference: Sartaz Aziz may curtail the visit, low hope of bilateral talks

"There can be a few handshakes and some informal talk as a matter of courtesy maybe but there is no proposal for any real bilateral dialogue."
Sartaz Aziz

In the Heart of Asia conference scheduled for December 3 and 4 in Amritsar, Pakistan’s Sartaz Aziz, the de facto foreign minister of the country, will likely have a curtailed visit to India. There has been no confirmation of any substantive bilateral dialogue between the two countries in the sideline of this conference.

According to a report of Times of IndiaPakistan has confirmed that Aziz will arrive in Amritsar only on December 4, unlike delegates from other countries who will land a day earlier, and depart for Pakistan the same evening. Foreign ministers of 14 countries are expected to participate in the conference.

Aziz will not be attending the dinner which will be hosted by India on December 3. He will be accompanied by Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Syed Abrar Hussain and senior MoFA official Mansoor Khan who handles Afghanistan.

The report quoted its sources as saying, “There can be a few handshakes and some informal talk as a matter of courtesy maybe but there is no proposal for any real bilateral dialogue.”

India is likely to be represented by M J Akbar, Minister of State for external affairs, as Sushma Swaraj is admitted in AIIMS for kidney transplant. PM Narendra Modi will inaugurate the event on December 4. Official sources said no side had proposed that Aziz call on Modi while in Amritsar.
Amid the heat and massacre going on at Line of Control (LoC), the government is hoping hat the appointment of Qamar Javed Bajwa , who is seen as less of a hawk on India compared to his predecessor, will help cool down the situation at LoC. The visit by Aziz could have provided the two countries an opportunity to start afresh, but India has made it clear that for a bilateral dialogue to take place, it is important that Pakistan end terrorism targeted at India.

Pakistan, too, is keen to ensure that it is not seen as making any concession to India at a time when it is seeking to convince the world about India’s alleged ceasefire violations and resultant civilian casualties.

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