–Qureshi and Swaraj shake hands, hold informal meeting
–FO statement says minister reiterated Pakistan’s offer of peace dialogue to India
–Qureshi calls for collective efforts to achieve sustainable regional development goals
BISHKEK: In a sign of de-escalation in tensions between Pakistan and India, the foreign ministers of the two South Asian neighbours shook hands with each other on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers moot in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO), Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi shook hands with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and discussed matters of mutual interest during the meeting.
“Today I met Sushma Ji. She had a complaint that we sometimes talk in a bitter manner, and so she brought sweets today so we could also speak sweetly,” Qureshi was quoted as saying by the FO.
During the meeting, Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s resolve for a meaningful dialogue between the two nuclear-armed nations. He also reminded her how the prime minister had extended an olive branch to India soon after coming to power.
“We made it clear to her that we want all the matters resolved through dialogue, and that Prime Minister Imran Khan had said in his very first speech that if India takes one step forward, we would take two steps forward,” he said.
Previously, Qureshi was seated next to Swaraj during the meeting of SCO Council of Foreign Ministers.
Earlier, while speaking at the two-day council meeting, Qureshi said that Pakistan will continue to support the Afghan peace process, led by its own people.
It may be mentioned here that the peace talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban are all set to enter the 7th phase, and both sides have expressed satisfaction with the progress. The Afghan government, however, has complained of being left out of the negotiations.
Pakistan played a major role in bringing both rivals to the talks table. The US had also welcomed its efforts to promote peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The acknowledgement came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Pakistan had arranged another round of talks between the US and Taliban officials but he did not say when and where.
Qureshi said that it was a matter of satisfaction that the Afghan peace process was progressing.
He said conflict resolution was important for peace and stability in the South Asian region.
He called for collective efforts among member countries to meet the present day challenges and to achieve sustainable regional development.
The minister observed that SCO serves as an important platform for links among the regional countries, adding Pakistan was determined to implement the charter of the organisation.
Referring to the geo-strategic location of Pakistan, Qureshi reiterated China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project will help further promote links in the region.
The foreign minister also condemned terrorism and stressed the need for addressing its root causes. He said Pakistan is among the few countries which successfully curbed terrorism. He said Pakistan was ready to share its experience and expertise with the SCO member to deal with terrorism.
He said Pakistan has given the message of peace by opening the Kartarpur Corridor for the Sikh community. He said Pakistan has practically reinforced the ‘Shanghai spirit’ through Kartarpur Corridor.
Qureshi also met with his Chinese and Kazakh counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting.
While talking to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Hi, Qureshi said China is our close friend and a strong partner. He also asserted that Pakistan-China friendship is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. while lauding Chinese support on important matters and its role in regional peace and stability.
Qureshi also congratulated Yi on the successful conduct of second Belt and Road Forum. He said the success of this forum is a manifestation of the international community’s trust in Chinese policies.
Qureshi and his Kazakh’s counterpart Beibut Atamkulov agreed to enhance the volume of their bilateral trade to one billion dollars.