Sushma Swaraj to visit Islamabad tomorrow, talks with Aziz on agenda

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Islamabad on Tuesday to attend a regional conference on Afghanistan, the government has confirmed.

Minister of state Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who announced this on Monday, said Swaraj will give a statement after her return to the country.

PTI reported that Swaraj will also call on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hold talks with his adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

The confirmation of her visit comes a day after the national security advisers of both countries, Ajit Doval and Nasir Janjua, held a meeeting in Bangkok to take the bilateral engagements forward.

With the NSA talks now over, Swaraj’s Islamabad visit would have a different meaning as she would be free to hold talks on bilateral issues with the Pakistani leadership.

This is the first ministerial level visit to Pakistan after Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister.

Swaraj’s visit comes three years after former external affairs minister SM Krishna travelled to Islamabad in 2012 when the countries also inked a visa liberalisation pact.

During her visit, the external affairs minister will be accompanied by foreign secretary S Jaishankar, who was also present during the meeting between Doval and Janjua in the Thai capital.

The invite to Swaraj was reportedly pending for more than a month, with media reports saying the the plans were finalised after the meeting of Modi and Sharif in Paris on November 30.

Last week, Pakistani media reports quoted unnamed sources saying Swaraj was likely to make the trip, but there was no confirmation from the Indian side.

The Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan, to be held from December 8-10 in the Pakistan capital, will have the participation of 27 countries.