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PM Modi to meet Sharif on sidelines of SCO summit

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PM Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet on the sidelines of SCO summit.

PM Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet on the sidelines of SCO summit.

In another opportunity to foster goodwill among two nuclear rivals in South Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of SCO summit in the Russian city of Ufa on Friday.

The external affairs ministry has confirmed that talks is scheduled to take place at 9.15 am.

“It is confirmed. The two prime ministers will have a bilateral meeting at 9:15 am on Friday on the sidelines of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) summit,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

It may be noted that the two PMs had met informally at a dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

But on the eve of the talks, Pakistan violated ceasefire again at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday in which one BSF jawan was killed.

A White House official said: “We want to see the tensions (between India and Pakistan) reduce. It’s in nobody’s interest for the tensions to rise. An awful lot of are kids living in that part of the world and everybody would want them to have a better future.”

This will be the first structured meeting between the two leaders since Sharif attended Modi’s inauguration last May.

“We want good, friendly relations with neighbours, but conditions apply: the condition of peace being maintained in the region,” said national security adviser Ajit Doval.

The bilateral ties between India and Pakistan took a hard hit after New Delhi called off talks between the foreign secretaries last August as the Pakistan’s envoy hosted Kashmiri separatists in the run-up to the talks.

The two leaders had a brief chat on the sidelines of the Saarc summit last November and have spoken on the phone several times.

But the ice-breaker was Modi’s recent telephone call to Sharif to greet him on Ramzan followed by a decision by the two countries to release fishermen in each other’s jails.

Indian sources, however, said red lines still existed, including an atmosphere free of violence and the absence of a third party (Hurriyat).

Sources said all issues of mutual concern will be raised at the meeting which was sought by the Indian side.

But India’s concerns about Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorism and bring the 2008 Mumbai attackers are key to taking the peace process forward.

Despite pressure from New Delhi, progress against the accused in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks has remained tardy, especially the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi that continues to be an irritant in bilateral ties.

Pakistan said the meeting will see a “comprehensive exchange on all issues of common interest”.

“It has always been Pakistan’s policy to seek cordial and cooperative ties with all neighbours including India,” the Pakistani foreign office spokesperson said.

“It was in the pursuit of this objective that Pakistan prime minister would be meeting the Indian prime minister for a comprehensive exchange on all issues of common interest.”

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