Tue. Jan 21st, 2020

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Visit Pakistan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, speaks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj before leaving for his official visit

By Joanna Sugden

India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, is expected to visit Pakistan on Wednesday, days after senior officials from both countries met in Thailand for talks, in another possible signal that relations between the estranged neighbors are starting to thaw.

A post Monday on the verified Twitter account of Vikas Swarup, the foreign ministry’s spokesman, said Ms. Swaraj would be in the Pakistani capital Islamabad for a meeting on Afghanistan.

It would mark the third high-level contact in two weeks between the two countries, which have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Nawaz Sharif, his Pakistani counterpart, at climate talks in Paris last week. The two leaders shook hands and sat down for a chat during the first day of the conference.

On Sunday, the national security advisers and foreign secretaries of the two nuclear-armed nations met in Bangkok for discussions that were, according to a joint statement, “guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful, stable a prosperous South Asia.”

The discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, issues related to the disputed region of Kashmir and tranquility along the contested boundary between the two countries, the statement said.

In July, Mr. Modi said he would visit Pakistan next year for the annual summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, known as Saarc.

But the following month, relations between the two nations worsened when planned talks between their national security advisers in New Delhi were called off by Islamabad because the two sides couldn’t agree what should, and shouldn’t, be on the agenda.

Over the past year, Indian and Pakistani security forces have repeatedly exchanged fire, and militants, who New Delhi says come from Pakistan, have attacked Indian targets. Dozens of civilians and soldiers on both sides have died.

New Delhi has long accused Pakistan of supporting Kashmiri separatists and harboring militants who launch terror attacks in India. Pakistan denies these allegations.

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