India will host the next Heart of Asia conference in 2016, top sources have told The Indian Express. The official announcement will be made Wednesday.
One of the 14 member countries of Istanbul Process, India has volunteered to host the sixth meeting next year. This will be one of the main outcomes of this Heart of Asia conference — from India’s perspective — which will come out with the Islamabad Declaration Wednesday. “It was important for the External Affairs Minister to come to Islamabad for this reason too, since we are hosting the next Heart of Asia conference,” a source said.
An Indian negotiator said there will be tough language on terrorism, which will aim at denying sanctuaries for terrorists, crackdown on terror funding and related issues at the conference. “It is interesting to see Pakistan talking about denying sanctuaries to terrorists,” an Indian official said.
Shortly after arrival here, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “The Heart of Asia conference is very important for India because it is associated with Afghanistan… Since it is happening in Pakistan, it is necessary and appropriate for me to meet PM Nawaz Sharif and hold talks with my counterpart Sartaj Aziz on improving bilateral ties,” Swaraj said.
Earlier in the day, Aziz, Pakistan PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, said his country would support all efforts to strengthen peace and security in Afghanistan. He was addressing officials before the Ministerial Heart of Asia Conference, jointly hosted by Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said the meet is an effective platform to promote economic cooperation and connectivity, with Afghanistan at its centre. Since its launch in 2011, the forum has made good progress towards realisation of its objective to promote durable peace and stability in the war-torn nation, he said.
He said confidence-building measures identified in Istanbul Process document are leading to enhanced regional cooperation of Heart of Asia countries with Afghanistan in areas like economy and counter-terrorism.