General

Modi, Sharif to hold bilateral talks in Russia

- Agencies
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will engage in bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on Friday, at the sidelines of the ongoing Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia.

The sit-down meeting — the first between the two South Asian leaders in more than a year — was initiated by New Delhi, according to Indian newspaper the Hindu. Modi’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar reportedly made a request to Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry through the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan on July 3, just over a week after meeting the Pakistani High Commissioner.

However, the tone for the talks was set by a phone call from Modi to Sharif on June 16, which appeared to mitigate the long-standing tension between the two neighbors that had been escalating in recent months.

The last time the leaders met one-on-one was Modi’s first day in office in May 2014, and an effort to conduct a similar meeting at November’s South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Nepal was rebuffed because of various disagreements. Since then, the relationship has been marred by simmering clashes on the India-Pakistan border and in the disputed region of Kashmir, as well as flare-ups in rhetoric after Modi’s visit to Bangladesh and India’s covert operations in Burma, officially now called Myanmar, earlier this year.

The implicit expectation from Friday’s meeting is that concrete steps will be taken to ensure a bilateral dialogue is maintained, and agreements may be announced on relatively nonsensitive issues such as trade and bilateral visa exemptions.
Published: 2015-07-09 12:50:08