The United States on Friday hailed India’s acceptance of Pakistani proposal for talks between the foreign ministers on the sidelines of the ongoing annual UN General Assembly session in New York and termed it as a “terrific news”.
“We saw that (reports of meetings between Indian and Pak leaders). I think that’s a terrific news for the Indians and Pakistanis to be able to sit down and have a conversation together,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at her daily news conference.
Nauert also welcomed the exchange of messages between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We saw the reports about the positive messages being exchanged between Prime Minister Khan and also Prime Minister Modi. And we hope that the conditions will be set for a good strong relationship, a good strong bilateral relationship in the future,” she said.
On Thursday, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar announced that India has agreed to a meeting between Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Pakistan’s request. He, however, made it clear that it was not the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue.
Pak PM Khan had written a letter to PM Modi, seeking resumption of talks between the two countries on key issues “challenging the relationship”, including on terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir.
“I can confirm that at the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting will take place between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York at a mutually convenient time, date and place,’’ External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.
He said the Pakistani premier had written to Modi in response to the Indian leader’s letter congratulating him on the assumption of his office in Pakistan. The Pakistan foreign minister had written a separate letter to Swaraj. Both these letters were handed over to New Delhi on 17 September by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood.
The spokesperson said the permanent missions of India and Pakistan in New York were in touch in connection with arrangements for the meeting.
He sought to emphasise that the meeting between the two foreign ministers could not be termed as the resumption of dialogue.
“I must distinguish between a meeting and a dialogue…this does not indicate any change in our stand on terrorism and cross-border terrorism,’’ he added.
The spokesperson also referred to Swaraj’s oft-repeated statement that terror and talks could not go together but talks on terror could go on.
(With agency inputs)