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Modi will ‘certainly’ visit Pakistan for SAARC Summit

sartaj aziz

Islamabad:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will “certainly” visit Pakistan next year to attend the SAARC Summit, Pakistan Premier’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz has said.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will certainly visit Pakistan next year,” Aziz told reporters after attending a two-day conference at the 6th Think Tank Forum of Islamic Countries here yesterday.

Pakistan will host the SAARC summit in 2016 and leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) — which comprises of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — would be invited.

Talking about Indo-Pak relations, Aziz was quoted by Dawn News as saying that “all matters of common interest will be included in the talks, whenever they are started.”

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Pakistan on March 3 as part of his ‘SAARC yatra’ and held talks with his counterpart Aizaz Chaudhary during which he conveyed the expectations of the Indian leadership on SAARC and the determination to forge a cooperative relationship with all the neighbours.

Aziz said that although the Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit had a SAARC agenda, both sides had used the opportunity to discuss bilateral issues.

He termed the lack of trust between Pakistan and India as a major issue and said there would be progress on other matters if trust was gradually restored.

India had called-off foreign secretary-level talks at the eleventh hour in August last year because the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri separatists.

Meanwhile, talking about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan, Aziz said the dates for the trip were being worked out.

“The Chinese president will not visit Pakistan on March 23,” he said.

The Chinese president last year postponed his trip to Pakistan due to protests by opposition.

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