Pakistan’s Aziz to attend Afghan conference in India
New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) India on Wednesday confirmed that Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister, will attend a global conference on Afghanistan in Amritsar early next month.
“Yes,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in reply to a question if Islamabad had conveyed to New Delhi that Aziz would participate in the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on December 3 and 4.
The conference on Afghanistan is likely to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Participants from over 40 countries are expected to attend the two-day event focused on development and security in Afghanistan.
Aziz had earlier in Islamabad confirmed his participation. But Swarup last week said the Pakistan government was yet to convey this.
The spokesperson’s confirmation now sets to rest speculations about Aziz’s visit to India that comes amid hightened tensions between the two countries.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj travelled to Islamabad in December last year to attend the Heart of Asia conference, during the course of which it was decided that India and Pakistan would start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.
However, the peace initiative got derailed after a cross-border terror attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force base in January that claimed the lives of seven Indian security personnel.
India blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror outfit for the attack.
The ties worsened after Pakistani militants killed 19 Indian soldiers in an attack on an army base in Jammu and Kashmir in September.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi later decided to skip the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad earlier this month.