New Delhi, Oct 5: India and Pakistan are looking at the possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Kathmandu in November- end on the margins of the 18th SAARC Summit.
Though officials in New Delhi say it is too early to say anything concrete in the matter, the two sides are learnt to be in touch in this regard.
It is customary for eight SAARC leaders to hold bilateral talks whenever they meet for their summit. Therefore, Modi is expected to hold bilateral meetings not only with Sharif but also with the leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and host Nepal.
Sources said an anticipated meeting between Modi and Sharif could not take place in New York on the fringes of the UN General Assembly because of scheduling issues as well as tension in ties due to frequent ceasefire violations on the border by Pakistan.
The Pakistan Premier further vitiated the atmosphere by raking up the Kashmir issue in his UN speech. In his address a day later, Modi firmly told Pakistan that raising the Kashmir bogey at the UN would not serve any purpose and that India was prepared to hold bilateral talks with Islamabad on all issues only in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.
Pakistan Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz’s statement that High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders on the eve of the August 25 Foreign Secretary-level talks (which was subsequently cancelled by India) were ill-timed has apparently paved the way for meeting between the two Prime Ministers in Kathmandu.
The Foreign Secretaries of the two countries are expected to meet only after the talks between their Prime Ministers. They will set the calendar for talks between top officials on the two sides on all outstanding issues.