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Pak envoy meets Jaitley

November 01, 2003 16:40 IST
Last Updated: November 01, 2003 19:28 IST

In the midst of polemical attacks on the India-Pakistan peace initiative, there has been some quiet progress on the diplomatic front with Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan meeting Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi yesterday.

Khan has sought appointments with the top Indian leadership.

This is Khan's first high-level interaction with an Indian leader after he took charge in July. The Pakistan envoy is understood to have been allowed to move out of Delhi. The movement of Pakistani diplomats had been restricted after the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament.

Khan discussed with Jaitley issues relating to expanding bilateral trade and bringing down tariff barriers within the SAARC framework, South Block sources said on Saturday.

New Delhi will host the three-day South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation information ministers' conference from November 10, in which Pakistan will participate. The other SAARC members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Khan, who has sought meetings with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, will meet Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi on November 3 and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Najma Heptulla the next day, the sources said.

Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Shiv Shankar Menon has met Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Menon was recently given permission to visit Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan's son in Mardan.

The meetings are evidence of the (peace) process moving along, the sources said.

The high commissioner has sought appointments with Defence Minister George Fernandes and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha.


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