Sushma Swaraj to visit Pakistan

New Delhi, December 7

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will hold talks with Pakistan on Wednesday, the first visit by India’s top diplomat to its rival in three years, part of efforts to restart a peace dialogue plagued by militant attacks and distrust.

Swaraj will lead an Indian delegation to Islamabad for talks on Afghanistan, India’s foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on his Twitter page.

Top Pakistani foreign affairs official Sartaj Aziz said Swaraj would meet him and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“This is a good beginning, that the deadlock that was present has to some extent been removed,” Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on security and foreign affairs, told reporters.

The visit comes after the collapse of talks in August that raised questions about the ability of the nuclear-armed rivals to overcome animosity that has festered since their independence from British rule almost seven decades ago.

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Sharif resumed high-level contacts with a brief conversation at climate change talks in Paris last week and their national security advisers met in Bangkok on Sunday.

Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian foreign secretary, said the foreign minister’s visit showed the Modi government had softened its hardline stance towards Pakistan.