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HomeWorldSenior Pakistan official Sartaj Aziz says to visit India, hints at detente

Senior Pakistan official Sartaj Aziz says to visit India, hints at detente


Pakistan’s top foreign affairs official has said he plans to visit India next month for a regional conference, the first high-profile visit since tensions spiralled between the arch-rivals after a deadly attack on an Indian army base.

Sartaj Aziz has said that he would travel to India to attend the Heart of Asia Conference on Afganistan in December, asserting that the trip could be a “good opportunity” to “defuse” Indo-Pak tension.

The conference is scheduled to be held in India on December 3 in Amritsar.

Aziz would be the first senior Pakistani official to visit India since the September 10 Uri attack, blamed on Pakistan-based militants, that led India to pull out of the SAARC Summit in Pakistan in November.

The killing of Indian soldiers soured relations and led to weeks of diplomatic quarrelling, with both Islamabad and New Delhi accusing opposing diplomats of spying and then expelling them.

“It’s a good opportunity to defuse the tension,” Aziz, who is an adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs, told the state-run PTV channel.

“We want to prove that Pakistan is with the multilateral process by attending the Heart of Asia Conference as Afghanistan is our top priority,” he said.

It was not immediately clear if he would hold any bilateral talks with Indian officials during the visit.

The decision came after months of surging tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours sparked by a September attack on an Indian base in disputed Kashmir, which killed 19 soldiers and which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based militants.

Aziz also said he himself will participate in the conference and will not repeat India’s “blunder” where it boycotted South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit, the report said.

Aziz, however, said it has not been confirmed yet whether he will meet his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the conference or not.

The Advisor also said that the US president-elect Donald Trump would deserve Nobel Prize if he intervenes and succeeds in resolving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.

“Trump would deserve Nobel Prize if he helps resolve Kashmir dispute,” he said on a lighter note while responding to a question.

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