Pakistan yet to confirm participation in Heart of Asia: India

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) India on Thursday said it welcomed Pakistan’s participation in the Heart of Asia conference to be held in December but the neighbouring country is yet to officially communicate its participation in the meet.

“We have yet to receive the official confirmation and also the level of participation from Pakistan,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup, days after Sartaj Aziz, Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the Pakistan Prime Minister, confirmed Pakistan’s participation to the conference during a press conference in Islamabad.

About the possibility of bilateral talks with Pakistan, Swarup said: “We welcome participation from Pakistan. Whether any bilateral meeting will take place or not, lets not jump the gun. Lets get the official letter of participation.”

Following the September 18 attack on the Indian army camp in Uri town Jammu and Kashmir that left 18 soldiers dead and a retaliatory attack of Indian army across the line of Control in Pakistan administered Kashmir late on September 28, relations between two countries are tense.

India declined to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit to be held in Islamabad on November 15-16. The summit was subsequently postponed as some other member nations like Afghanistan and Bangladesh also decided to skip it.

A ministerial level meeting of the Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan will be held in Amritsar on December 4. Last year Islamabad hosted the conference, which was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

The Amritsar conference is a ministerial level meeting to discuss peace, development and cooperation, economic cooperation in particular in Afghanistan, added Swarup.

India is expecting more than 40 participants including countries and partner organisations.

Heart of Asia or Istanbul Process places Afghanistan at its centre and engages its near and extended neighbouring countries in a result oriented cooperation for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.