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Swaraj arrives in Pakistan; to meet PM Sharif tomorrow

Last updated on: December 08, 2015 22:13 IST

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz during a banquet hosted by him on Tuesday for the heads of delegates participating in a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

Aziz greeted Swaraj warmly and both engaged in a brief conversation. Aziz later sat next to Swaraj.

After arriving on a two-day visit, primarily to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, Swaraj said relationship between the two countries should be better and that she will hold talks with Pakistani leaders to find ways to improve bilateral ties.

"I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward," said Swaraj.

Swaraj will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaz Aziz and call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the conference on Wednesday.

Aziz said he was expecting a ‘good and positive’ outcome from the meeting on Wednesday and both sides should take forward the engagement to improve ties.

"My expectations are good and positive from the talks," Aziz said.

When asked about Swaraj's comment that she has come with a message that ties between the two countries should be 'good and move forward', he said, "My message is also that we should take our engagement forward and improve ties."

Swaraj said talks will be to improve bilateral ties and take them forward.

"Heart of Asia conference is very important for India because it is associated with Afghanistan. That is why I have come here to participate. Since it is happening in Pakistan it is necessary and appropriate for me to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hold talks with my counterpart Sartaj Aziz to talk about improving the bilateral ties and take them forward," Swaraj said.

Swaraj's visit comes after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok on Sunday, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the 'constructive' engagement.

Aziz had said on Monday that the deadlock in Indo-Pak ties had eased to some extent.

During his talks with Swaraj, Aziz said he would discuss various matters with focus on resumption of composite dialogue process between the two countries.

Swaraj's trip came three years after former external affairs minister S M Krishna's visit to Islamabad in 2012 when the two sides inked a visa liberalisation pact.

Swaraj is accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who was also present during the four-hour-long meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Janjua in the Thai capital.

The joint statement after the meeting of the NSAs said the talks were held pursuant to a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the climate meet in Paris, rejecting the version given by the Indian side then that it was a mere 'exchange of courtesies'.

Sharif had told Pakistani media that he had a 'good meeting' with Modi and 'doors of dialogue should open'.

Before Paris, Modi and Sharif had held bilateral meeting in Russian city of Ufa where they decided that their NSAs would meet to discuss all 'terror-related' issues.

However, Pakistan had called-off Aziz's visit after New Delhi had made it clear that he would not be allowed to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders in the Indian capital.

Image: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks with the press in Pakistan after her arrival for the two-day visit. Photograph: Vikash Swarup/ Twitter

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