Pak­istan’s top diplo­mat to visit In­dia for talks

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Pak­istan’s top diplo­mat said Thurs­day he would visit In­dia later this month on an “ice break­ing” tour as vi­o­lence sim­mers in the dis­puted Kash­mir ter­ri­tory.

“I can briefly con­firm that I will be go­ing to In­dia on Aug. 23 for talks,” Ad­vi­sor on For­eign Af­fairs Sar­taj Aziz told a joint press con­fer­ence with vis­it­ing Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ter Javad Zarif in Is­lam­abad.

There has been a rise in cross-bor­der shelling along the de facto bor­der sep­a­rat­ing the two halves of Kash­mir in re­cent weeks.

On Thurs­day a grenade ex­ploded out­side a mosque in In­dian Kash­mir, in­jur­ing 10 wor­ship­pers af­ter morn­ing prayers in the first such in­ci­dent in 14 years, lo­cal po­lice said.

Af­ter months of stale­mate and re­crim­i­na­tions, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and his Pak­istani coun­ter­part Nawaz Sharif spoke for around an hour while vis­it­ing Rus­sia in July, rec­og­niz­ing their “col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure peace and pro­mote de­vel­op­ment.”

Modi also ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion from Sharif to visit Pak­istan next year, rais­ing hopes of an im­prove­ment in peren­ni­ally dif­fi­cult re­la­tions.

Aziz said his visit was “not a break­through in terms of com­pos­ite di­a­logue and all the is­sues but at least it is an ice break­ing on some is­sues ... and let’s hope it will lead to fur­ther more com­pre­hen­sive di­a­logue on the other is­sues be­tween the two coun­tries.”

He added that the two prime min­is­ters had agreed to the step dur­ing their meet­ing in Rus­sia.

In­dia and Pak­istan have fought three wars since the par­ti­tion of the sub­con­ti­nent in the wake of in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1947, two of them over Kash­mir.

Since 1989 sev­eral rebel groups have waged cam­paigns against the hun­dreds of thou­sands of In­dian forces de­ployed in Kash­mir, hop­ing to achieve in­de­pen- dence or Pak­istan.

They agreed on a bor­der ceasefire in 2003, which has largely held, though vi­o­la­tions are regularly re­ported from both sides.

Zarif, mean­while, ex­pressed hope for the re­vival of a stalled gas pipeline pro­ject con­nect­ing Iran to energy-starved Pak­istan, fol­low­ing last month’s sign­ing of a his­toric nu­clear deal be­tween Tehran and world pow­ers.

“The im­ped­i­ment to greater and more en­hanced co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Iran and Pak­istan will have been re­moved, through the re­moval of sanc­tions and that is why the work on the IranPak­istan pipeline could go ahead more ex­pe­di­tiously,” he said fol­low­ing talks with Aziz and Pak­istan’s Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif.

Iran com­pleted its part of the pro­ject in 2013, but Pak­istan put con­struc­tion on hold cit­ing U.S. and Euro­pean sanc­tions on Tehran linked to its nu­clear pro­gram.

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