India, Pakistan ministers to meet in US, but prospects are low

NEW DELHI: The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this month, the Indian foreign ministry said on Thursday, the first such high-level meeting in years between the nuclear rivals and arch foes.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had written to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, suggesting their foreign ministers meet in New York to try to break an impasse in ties.

With Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party gearing for elections by the middle of next year, prospects of a rapprochement are low. The BJP has long advocated a tough stance towards Pakistan.

The Modi government has insisted that Pakistan act against anti-India Islamist militant groups that operate from its soil before it can resume peace talks to resolve long standing differences over the Himalayan region of Kashmir and other disputes.

Pakistan denies aiding and abetting attacks in India including in Kashmir and says it is fighting militant groups for its own security.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said New Delhi had agreed to a meeting between Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

He sought to play down hopes of a full resumption in talks between the neighbours that have been in deep chill ever since coordinated attacks in Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people were killed by Pakistan-based militants.

"This is just a meeting, too much should not be read into the proposed meeting," Kumar said. "This is not a resumption of dialogue. They asked for a meeting, we said yes."