Pak, Indian foreign secretaries to meet on sidelines of Heart of Asia in Delhi

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Foreign Affairs on Monday, April 25, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry will leave for India tomorrow to participate in a meeting of senior officials during the Heart of Asia ─ Istanbul Process in New Delhi.

Foreign Office (FO) Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Aizaz, who will be leading the Pakistani delegation, is expected to hold an informal bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference with the Indian team, among others.

Aizaz will meet Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, The Hindu reported, citing government sources.

In what was termed as a 'major breakthrough' at the Heart of Asia ministerial meeting in December last year, Pakistan and India, ending a two-year-long stalemate, announced the resumption of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD).

Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'surprise' visit to Lahore just weeks after the Heart of Asia conference ─ move that appeared to promise better relations between the neighbouring countries in the coming year ─ a meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries to restart the CBD was derailed after the Pathankot attack.

Since then, no date for talks between the foreign secretaries were decided, but both sides have been in touch regarding the matter.

The FO spokesman said Pakistan had continued to play an active role in the Heart of Asia process, which had been launched in 2011 as a platform for discussing regional security, economic cooperation and connectivity among Afghanistan, its neighbours and regional countries with a view to promote lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan and Afghanistan jointly hosted the fifth Heart of Asia ministerial meeting in December 2015. The conference resulted in the adoption of the forward-looking Islamabad Declaration entitled "Emphasising Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Regional Connectivity".

Pakistan looks forward to active participation in the forthcoming senior officials meeting of the process reflecting our commitment to efforts for promoting long-term peace and stability in the region, the FO said.