ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s top foreign policy aide Sartaj Aziz had an ‘informal’ meeting with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid in Kyrgyztan Thursday just before a dinner reception for SCO heads in Bishkek.
The informal interaction on the eve of their scheduled and much publicised meeting on Friday (today) prepared ground for more discussions, primarily aimed at confirming and finalising the agenda of the proposed Nawaz Sharif-Manmohan Singh meeting in New York later this month.
There was no official word from the Foreign Office on this ‘informal meeting’. Sources told The Nation that Aziz-Khurshid meeting took place in the evening. A report from the Indian side also said the two top diplomats ‘met informally’ before the SCO dinner on Thursday and would ‘engage again’ on Friday. It will be an ‘informal’ and not a ‘structured’ meeting, it was underlined.
The two top diplomats met on the heels of a round of Pakistan-India back-channel diplomacy in Dubai where special envoys of their prime ministers met to ease tensions and remove irritants to pave way for a meaningful result-oriented dialogue.
Aziz and Khurshid will be assisted by their senior foreign ministry officials. Noor Muhammad Jadmani, additional secretary Asia Pacific at the Pakistan Foreign Office has also travelled to Bishkek for the meeting.
Foreign Office spokesperson told a weekly news briefing here on Thursday that the two top diplomats would meet Friday to discuss “overall bilateral relations.”
The meeting acquires significance as it is likely to firm up the date for the proposed meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries on the margins of UN General Assembly session this month.
The Sharif-Singh meeting is considered crucial as on it hinges the resumption of the stalled bilateral Composite Dialogue which is considered an integral part of Pakistan-India peace process.
This is the second Aziz-Khurshid meeting since July when they first met on the sidelines of Asean meetings in Brunei and decided to put the senior official-level bilateral dialogue process back on track. However, the August 6 LoC flare-up put bilateral relations in high strain and derailed the planned meetings.
Initiated in February 2004, Pakistan-India composite dialogue has been disrupted several times by incidents that soured relations. The bilateral dialogue process is aimed at confidence building, normalization of bilateral relations and dispute resolution.