Swaraj, Aziz to meet on SAARC sidelines

Kathmandu, March 14

India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s top diplomat and adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, are set to hold talks in Pokhara this week.

They will meet on the sidelines of the 37th Session of SAARC Council of Ministers to be held in the Lake City on March 17. Foreign/external affairs ministers of SAARC member-states are taking part in the meeting.

Swaraj and Aziz will reach Pokhara on March 16 and are scheduled to meet the following day at Hotel Grande, which is the venue of the SAARC ministerial meeting and where all participating foreign delegates will stay.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Tara Prasad Pokharel told The Himalayan Times that one-on-one talks between the two leaders were likely on sidelines of the regional meet.

A source at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu didn’t deny the prospect of meeting between Swaraj and Aziz, but refrained from confirming it.

It is learnt that Swaraj will reach Pokhara in a special flight from New Delhi via Gorakhpur and return on the same route on March 18.

Aziz, who is de facto foreign minister of Pakistan, will reach Pokhara via Kathmandu.

Indian media has reported that Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who is due to reach Pokhara tomorrow to attend the SAARC Foreign Secretary-level meeting to be held on March 16, will also meet his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary.

Times of India reported that in Pokhara, Swaraj and Aziz are also hoping to pave way for a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Washington towards the end of this month.

The two leaders will be in the US for the Nuclear Security Summit.