Sushma Swaraj to meet PM Nawaz Sharif, resumption of cricket ties also on the cards

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Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who attended an hour-long dinner and cultural programme in Islamabad, hosted by Pakistan foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz, said she wanted ties between the two countries to improve and that she would hold talks to accomplish this. The relationship between the two arch rivals have been frosty off late.

After arriving on a two-day visit, primarily to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said relationship between the two countries should be better and that she will hold talks with Pakistani leaders to find ways to improve bilateral ties. “I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward,” said Swaraj.

Swaraj will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the conference. Aziz said he was expecting a “good and positive” outcome from the meeting and both sides should take forward the engagement to improve ties.

The fifth ‘Heart of Asia’ conference, an annual gathering of Asian and other countries, is aimed at enhancing cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the region.

The high-ranking delegations from 14 participating states, 17 supporting countries and 12 international and regional organisations are participating in the two-day conference.

Incidentally as Sushma is in Pakistan, the hearing of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks will take place in a Lahore court. The trial of main accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others have been underway since 2009 for their involvement in the attacks that killed 166 people. Lakhvi secured bail in December 2014 and was subsequently released in April this year.

Her visit comes three years after former external affairs minister SM Krishna travelled to Islamabad in 2012 when the countries also inked a visa liberalisation pact.