Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit here on Friday.
The meeting, scheduled to be held at 9.15 am local time (9.45 am IST), is being described by the Indian side as a bilateral dialogue encompassing all key aspects of the relationship between the two countries.
It will be the first structured meeting between the two leaders since Sharif attended Modi’s swearing-in event in Delhi last May. The meeting comes in the backdrop of India raising objections against China for blocking a move by the UN to censure Pakistan for the release of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
The relationship between India and Pakistan had nosedived after New Delhi called off talks between the foreign secretaries last August in the wake of the Pakistani envoy hosting Kashmiri separatists in the run-up to the bilateral dialogue.
Asked about his expectations from the meeting, Sharif told reporters: “Let’s talk first.”
Pakistan’s foreign office said the meeting between Modi and Sharif will see “comprehensive exchange on all issues of common interest”.
“It has always been Pakistan’s policy to seek cordial and cooperative ties with all neighbours, including India,” said a Pakistani foreign office spokesperson.
“It is in the pursuit of this objective that the Pakistan Prime Minister would be meeting the Indian Prime Minister for a comprehensive exchange on all issues of common interest,” the spokesperson added.
The two leaders had a brief chat on the sidelines of the Saarc summit in Kathmandu last November and have spoken on the phone several times. But the move that initiated a thaw in the relationship was Modi’s recent telephone call to Sharif to greet him on Ramzan followed by a decision to release fishermen from jails across both sides of the border.
Sources said all issues of mutual concerns will be raised at the meeting on Friday. But India’s concerns about Pakistan’s move to curb terrorism and bring the 2008 Mumbai attackers to book have been cited as an imperative for the NDA government to take the process forward.
At the SCO meeting, meanwhile, the process of inducting both India and Pakistan as full-time members is set to be initiated – both are observers now.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the inclusion of India and Pakistan in the SCO as members could further the peace dialogue efforts.