India, Pak keen to resume talks ahead of PM's trip

India, Pak keen to resume talks ahead of PM's trip

India, Pak keen to resume talks ahead of PM's trip

India and Pakistan are keen to complete at least one round of bilateral dialogue before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Islamabad to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit in November.

The two countries want to move ahead despite by the recent terrorist attack at Pathankot airbase in Punjab. Modi has already accepted an invitation from Pakistan Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif to visit Islamabad for the 19th Saarc summit.

Modi also paid a “surprise visit” to Lahore on December 25 to greet his Pakistan counterpart on his birthday and join celebration at his residence on the occasion of the wedding of his granddaughter.

New Delhi and Islamabad, however, are learnt to be preparing for a “formal visit” by Modi to Pakistan by the end of this year.

Modi’s trip to Islamabad for the Saarc summit will create an opportunity for a meeting between him and Sharif on the sideline of the multilateral event. New Delhi and Islamabad are learnt to be keen to include “a bilateral component with a substantive agenda” during the visit. But both sides, according to the sources, agree that senior officials must complete at least one round of negotiations under the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue before Modi’s visit.

India and Pakistan on December 9 last agreed to restart parleys after a two-year-long hiatus.  They agreed to rename it as Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, which, however, would include parleys on all the subjects discussed in Composite Dialogue from February 2004 to November 2008 and again as components of an untitled dialogue between March 2011 and January 2013.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his counterpart A A Choudhury were scheduled to meet in Islamabad to decide the modalities of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. The meeting was, however, deferred after terrorists attacked the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot.

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