01:33 GMT +316 June 2019
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    India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally in New Delhi, India, 8 May 2019

    Indian PM Not to Use Pakistani Airspace Despite Clearance From Islamabad

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    The Pakistani government had closed its airspace to Indian flights on 26 February, when the Indian Air Force conducted an airstrike against alleged terrorists targets in Pakistan. Last month, Pakistan opened its airspace so that then-Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj could travel to Bishkek to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers' meet.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian Foreign Ministry has stated that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plane would not use Pakistan's airspace while travelling for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kyrgyzstan.

    "The Government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP Aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP Aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and the Central Asian countries on its way to Bishkek."

    Earlier, Pakistan has given formal clearance to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to use its airspace to travel to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital.

    A diplomatic source said on Wednesday that Pakistan "formally conveyed the decision after the completion of procedural formalities" for the summit to be held between 13-14 June.

    On 10 June, the Indian External Affairs Ministry had declined to reveal Modi's travel plan, saying it is "difficult for us to discuss the technical details of Prime Minister's flight to Bishkek for the SCO".

    The Ministry also avoided commenting on whether Modi will raise the issue of Pakistan blocking air connectivity for Indians who have been spending more money and time to travel via Russia or Central Asia.

    On 7 June, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Modi, seeking resumption of a "comprehensive dialogue, including on Jammu and Kashmir". But it did not mention the format, venue or timing of the dialogue, nor about any SCO meeting.

    As of now, no bilateral meeting has been planned between the two leaders on the sidelines of the SCO Summit. The bilateral dialogue between the two nuclear-armed nations has been stalled since 2016, after a series of terrorist attacks on Indian military convoys.

    The relations further dipped in February this year, when at least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility, leading to the Indian Air Force to carry out an airstrike and destroy alleged terrorist encampments in Pakistan's Balakot area.

    The following day Pakistan retaliated and reportedly shot down an Indian fighter Jet, while India also claims to have shoot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 during the clash.

    Related:

    Pak Foreign Secretary in Delhi Ahead of Imran-Modi Face-to-Face at SCO Summit
    Pakistan Extends Ban on India Using Its Airspace to 15 June
    India Removed Restrictions on Flights in Airspace Imposed Amid Pakistan Tensions
    Satellite Imagery Shows India Missed Target in Pakistan Airstrike - Reports
    Tags:
    airspace, airstrike, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Imran Khan, Narendra Modi, Bishkek, China, Russia, Pakistan, India
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