Qureshi leaves for Dushanbe

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi leaves today (Monday) as the head of a delegation to attend the 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) Ministerial Conference being held tomorrow (Tuesday) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, announced the Foreign Office.

The theme of the conference is “Strengthening Consensus for Peace and Development.” “During the Ministerial Conference, the foreign minister will deliver a statement highlighting Pakistan’s positive contributions to the Afghan peace process and its support for Afghanistan’s development and connectivity within the regional framework,” said the Foreign Office.

On the sidelines of the conference, the foreign minister will hold consultations with key regional and international partners. There have been expectations and speculations ever since it was confirmed that both Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar would be attending the Dushanbe meeting, that there existed a possibility of both of them holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference. The last formal meeting between the two countries was in 2016 in Nepal.

“As we speak, it is highly unlikely that a meeting between the two foreign ministers will take place. Neither has Pakistan nor India requested for such a meeting on the sidelines of the conference,” sources involved in the process told The News.

However, they said one could not completely rule out such a meeting, which has seen in the past senior officials and even the prime ministers from both the countries ‘accidentally’ bumping into each other for an informal chat.

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