NEW DELHI: India on Thursday opened a window of opportunity by announcing that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj would meet her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between EAM & Pakistani foreign minister will take place on the sidelines of UNGA at a mutually convenient date and time,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson, MEA.
If it goes through, this would be the first such high-level engagement since the suspension of dialogue between the two countries following the Pathankot air base terror attack in 2016.
“The permanent missions of India and Pakistan will work out the date of the meeting,” said the MEA spokesperson.
He, however, sought to clarify that this would only be a meeting and shouldn’t be construed as resumption of dialogue. Talking to reporters, he said the meeting’s agenda was yet to be finalised.
Swaraj will leave for New York on September 24.
The general debate will commence on September 25 and will run for nine working days.
Swaraj and her Pakistan counterpart Qureshi are also scheduled to attend the SAARC foreign ministers’ lunch and get-together on September 27.
India’s decision comes after the new Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking resumption of dialogue. Subsequently, Qureshi also wrote to Swaraj.
Why the meeting is important
This will give India a chance to test Pakistan under the new leadership with Imran Khan, who is considered by many experts as a stooge of the Pakistan military.