AMRITSAR: The upcoming sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia (HoA), Istanbul Process which will begin here on Saturday will focus on stabilising war-ravaged Afghanistan.
According to sources, the confidence building measures (CBMs) in this regard will be discussed at the conference. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley will represent India in the ministerial conference in the absence of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations on December 4. The Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy advisor Sartaj Aziz is also scheduled to attend the conference and is expected to return on the same day.
No bilateral meeting is expected between India and Pakistan at the conference as the former has already clarified that it has not officially received a request for the same from Islamabad.
On November 30, Gopal Baglay, who heads the Indian ministry of external affairs division dealing with Pakistan said, “Pakistan has not requested for any bilateral meeting so far.’’
Over 40 foreign ministers and dignitaries from China, Russia, Iran and United Arab Emirates, USA, Canada and France besides the European Union will participate in the conference.
Afghanistan is the permanent chair for the Heart of Asia Process, while the conference host country holds the co-chair position.
The last Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference was held in Islamabad in December 2015, which was attended by India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Both the countries had agreed to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue to cover all outstanding issues at the conference. However, the talks weren’t resumed after the Pathankot attack in January this year.
Founded in Istanbul, Turkey in November 2011 with fourteen Asian countries, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process aim to strengthen confidence-building measures and initiate steps to counter narcotics and terrorism and to expand trade, commerce and investment opportunities in the South Asian region.