Singh keen to meet Nawaz, US officials told

Aug 20, 2013| Courtesy by : dawn.com

ANWAR IQBAL

WASHINGTON: India would like substantive discussions with Pakistan on the recent Kashmir tensions at an expected summit meeting in New York next month, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

— File photo

— File photo

The sources said that Indian officials, who recently visited Washington, are believed to have indicated that New Delhi remains interested in a meeting between Pakistani and Indian prime ministers in New York next month. Both leaders are coming to New York in late September to attend the UN General Assembly.

The two prime ministers will also be meeting US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai during their visit.

Mr Singh is coming to Washington on Sept 23 for an official meeting with Mr Obama.

During a visit to Islamabad earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry also invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit the United States for a meeting with President Obama. It is still not clear if Mr Nawaz will come to Washington or they will meet in New York.

Mr Nawaz, who meets the Afghan leader in Islamabad later this month, is also scheduled to have another meeting with Mr Karzai in New York.

The US president is also expected to have at least two meeting with his Afghan counterpart in New York.

The most important of these will be a trilateral meeting involving Mr Obama and the Indian and Afghan leaders, but Mr Sharif will meet each of them separately.

In these consultations, the Americans hope to make substantial progress in seeking regional cooperation for stabilising Afghanistan.

The Indian and Pakistani media, however, reported last week that the Nawaz-Singh meeting was not yet confirmed. The reports said that because of recent tensions along the Line of Control, Mr Singh is reluctant to meet the Pakistani leader amid fears that it could hurt his Congress Party in next year’s general elections.

Diplomatic sources in Washington say that when Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon visited the US capital last week for finalising the agenda for the Obama-Singh meeting, he told American officials that Mr Singh still wants to meet Mr Nawaz.

Media reports suggest that while publicly the Indian government has taken a tough stance on the LoC issue, privately it is keen to defuse tensions.