Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

Foreign Secretary to visit Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan from March 1-4

New Delhi, February 25, 2015

Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar wil visit Pakistan on March 3 as part of the first phase of a SAARC Yatra that will also take him to Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in response to a query that Dr Jaishankar would travel to Bhutan on March 1, to Bangladesh on March 2 and Afghanistan on March 4.
"The schedule for the other destinations is being worked out through diplomatic channels and will be indicated separately," he added.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) brings together India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and Afghanistan.
The visit is being made on the directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had, on February 13, talked to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as the leaders of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, which are all participating in the Cricket World Cup along with India and nine other countries.
Mr Modi had later announced that he would be sending the Foreign Secretary on a "SAARC Yatra" soon to strengthen ties among countries in the region.
The move was seen as a bit of "cricket diplomacy" by Mr Modi, who has given high priority to India's relations with SAARC nations. In fact, he had invited the leaders of all the seven other SAARC nations to attend his swearing-in ceremony on May 26 last year.
Later that day, Mr Akbaruddin had said that the move was part of the "multi-layered diplomacy" that Mr Modi practised.
He had said the Foreign Secretary would take various proposals made by Mr Modi for strengthening relations among SAARC nations. In reply to a question about whether this would amount to a resumption of the stalled dialogue with Pakistan, he had said the Foreign Secretary would, within the constraints of a short visit, also take up items of interest to India on the bilateral agenda.
"Sure, we have a bilateral agenda with all the SAARC countries and we will pursue that bilateral agenda, too, within the constraints of short visit to each of these countries.... Every leader and diplomat uses every opportunity to push the country's bilateral agenda," he said.
India had, on August 18 last year, called off its Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan after the High Commissioner of that country, Abdul Basit, held a meeting with a separatist leader from Kashmir here earlier that day in the first of a series of such interactions planned over the next three days.
Then Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was due to meet her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry in Islamabad on August 25, 2014 as part of the efforts by both sides to resume their stalled dialogue process.
The meeting was scheduled to take place nearly three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here, a day after assuming office, when the two leaders had agreed that their Foreign Secretaries would remain in touch to explore how the two neighbours could move forward in various areas.
The decision to call off the meeting also came against the background of several incidents of alleged violations of ceasefire from across the border in the preceding weeks.

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