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    India-Pakistan Bilateral Talks Unlikely at SCO Foreign Minister Meet – Source

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    India-Pakistan bilateral talks have been stalled since 2016 after terror attacks in India’s Pathankot in January and Uri in September. India accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, a charge which Pakistan denies.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): As Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is set to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers two-day meet in Kyrgyzstan from Tuesday, there is no bilateral meet scheduled between India and Pakistan. A diplomatic source told Sputnik the interaction would be limited to the forum in which issues like terrorism and the Afghanistan peace process may find prime importance.

    Amid tensions at the border between India and Pakistan, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria had given a courtesy call to Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood earlier this month (8 May).

    After the meeting, a diplomatic source told Sputnik that the two sides discussed "bilateral issues including the Kartarpur Corridor and other matters of mutual interest". The development, viewed in the light of the upcoming SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, led to speculations of a meeting or talks between the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the SCO event.

    The 21-22 May meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the 10-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be held in the Kyrgyz capital city of Bishkek.

    READ MORE: Need For Stronger SCO Role Against Terrorism

    "The External Affairs Ministers programme in Bishkek will include a meeting of the Council of SCO Foreign Ministers and a joint call of SCO Foreign Ministers on Kyrgyz President Sooranbay Jeenbekov," India's Ministry of External Affairs stated on Monday in a communique.

    Nevertheless, the SCO meet could provide an opportunity for India and Pakistan to explore the possibility of engagement at prime ministers' level as well.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan are expected to attend the SCO Heads of State meeting being held on 13-14 June in Bishkek.

    Last week, the Pakistan foreign ministry stated that Shah Mehmood Qureshi will highlight Pakistan's interest in regional, peace, stability and development and will give it an opportunity to project its perspective on foreign policy issues.

    "The SCO is an important regional forum which allows us to explore greater economic linkages and cooperation with the region in the areas of energy and transport and would help us in promoting Pakistan as a regional trade corridor," it added.

    READ MORE: Indian Troops to Use Russian Equipment During SCO Military Exercise in Russia

    "The Council of Foreign Ministers also offers an opportunity to meet leaders of Member States of SCO on the sidelines," a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on 16 May.

    Kashmir has been the simmering point between India and Pakistan since their independence from British colonial rule and simultaneous partition of the Indian mainland into India and Pakistan in 1947. The accession of Kashmir to India is challenged by Pakistan.

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    Tags:
    bilateral meetings, terrorism, dialogue, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Sushma Swaraj, India, Pakistan
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