Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on Friday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the Russian town of Ufa. Senior Indian and Pakistani officials told The Hindu that while no agreements were yet on the agenda to be signed, broad “areas of cooperation” would be set out to take the talks process forward.
These would include relaxing regulations for Indian and Pakistani banks, promoting more exchanges between businesspersons and business chambers, and extending long-term visas to Kashmiris wishing to cross over on the LoC bus. On Thursday, after days of speculation, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted the confirmation of the meeting: “It is confirmed. PM @narendramodi and PM Nawaz Sharif will have a bilateral meeting in Ufa tomorrow at 9.15 a.m. on sidelines of SCO Summit.”
The Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the meeting, and in a statement released on Thursday, said: “Pakistan had responded positively to a suggestion from the other side for a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the summits.”
The statement added that the meeting would cover “all issues of common interest”.
Earlier, The Hindu had reported that a meeting between the two Prime Ministers came at India’s request, made by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to his Pakistani counterpart, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, through a message conveyed by the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, TCA Raghavan, on July 3.
The two Prime Ministers, who last met but did not sit down to a bilateral meeting in Kathmandu during the SAARC summit last November, are expected to discuss a gamut of issues including trade, terror and the issue of action against the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
(With agency inputs from Ufa, Russia)