Amid India-Pak chill, Heart of Asia meet begins; Modi to reach in evening

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Chandigarh, Dec 3, 2016: The two-day Heart of Asia Conference began in Indian city of Amritsar on Saturday with the focus on stabilising war-ravaged Afghanistan.

As External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj indisposed, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will represent India in the group’s sixth ministerial conference.

Although on December 4, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations. The Pakistani delegation is to be led Sartaj Aziz, the advisor on foreign affairs to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Meanwhile, sources said Prime Minister Modi will reach the holy city Amritsar in the evening to participate in HoA summit.

After summits begans, External affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted:

India and Pakistan are among the 14 member countries of the Heart of Asia process, which also includes Turkey, China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia among others. Besides the members, there are more than 20 “supporting countries” including the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway and the European Union.

Today, senior officials of all 14 countries and representatives of 17 supporting nations were deliberating on a vast range of issues facing the region including its complex security scenario and dealing with threat of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism.

Issues like enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with South and Central Asian countries to boost trade were being discussed at the senior officials’ meeting which was co-chaired by India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hikmat Khaleel Karzai.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was founded in Istanbul in Turkey in November 2011. Fourteen Asian countries attended it.

Wefornews Bureau

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