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Indo-Pak ties: Pakistan proposes foreign secretary level talks in January

Indo-Pak ties: Pakistan proposes foreign secretary level talks in January

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday proposed the middle of January 2016 for talks between the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India, which are slated to be held in Islamabad.

“Pakistan is now waiting for India’s response to the proposed dates,” said Aziz.

Aziz was talking to media personnel in Islamabad.

Responding to another question regarding the recently announced Saudi-led alliance of 34 Islamic countries, the adviser to the prime minister stated that Pakistan is joining the alliance on a voluntary basis and there is nothing binding on Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s possible future role will be discussed in the days to come,” stated Aziz.

The adviser elaborated further and stated that as far as counter-terrorism is concerned, Pakistan fully supports the alliance against terrorism.

Read: Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan attracts ‘friendly fire’

While answering another question regarding the stalled peace dialogue between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government, Aziz said that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif will soon be travelling to Kabul to meet the senior civil and military leadership of the country.

“A meeting of senior officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US would also be held soon to discuss the modalities of resuming the stalled peace dialogue,” stated Aziz.

While on the topic, Sartaj Aziz also expressed satisfaction in regards to Pak-US ties and said bi-lateral relationship has significantly improved as compared to previous years.

The adviser to the premier also touched upon Pakistan’s improving ties with Russia.

“Cooperation between Pakistan and Russia has rapidly increased, and ties have improved significantly. A new chapter of Pak-Russia ties has started,” said the adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs

In the meeting held between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and India's Swaraj on the sidelines of the 'Heart of Asia' conference earlier in December, the Indian minister had confirmed that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Pakistan next year.

Pakistan and India have also agreed to reinitiate a comprehensive dialogue process, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said during a joint press conference along with the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

Both Swaraj and Aziz on the occasion had also condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate in order to eliminate the menace.

The dialogue process, which will start as soon as foreign secretaries agree on a schedule, will include matters related to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.

Earlier, the opening of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in the capital was marked by a warm welcome from Pakistani authorities to visiting dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, China among other Asian countries.

Also read: Indian FM plans talks on improving relations

In her speech, Swaraj focused on increased connectivity, regional trade and openness with Afghanistan, and also "extended India’s hand towards Pakistan" in this regard.

The national security advisers of Pakistan and India met for a brief and unannounced meeting in Bangkok, which was followed up by an informal and short meeting between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India.

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