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Sartaj Aziz to visit India, hints at easing of hostility

Sartaj Aziz to visit India, hints at easing of hostility

Islamabad: Pakistan's foreign policy chief, Sartaj Aziz, has said that he plans to attend the Heart of Asia Conference in India on December 3 and suggested the visit could be used to "defuse the tension" between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

"Unlike India, that had sabotaged Saarc summit in Pakistan by pulling out, Pakistan will respond by participating in the Heart of Asia being held in Amritsar, India, on December 3," confirmed Aziz to PTV news on Tuesday.

The adviser said he himself will participate in the conference.

Aziz, however, said it has not been confirmed yet whether he will meet his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the conference or not.

"Despite the fact that Indian forces killed our seven soldiers along Line of Control on Monday, Pakistan will not boycott the conference," Aziz maintained.

Aziz´s trip to India would be the first by a senior Pakistani official since gunmen raided an army base in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir and killed 19 soldiers in September, an attack New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

The Heart of Asia conference focusing on Afghanistan is due to be held in Amritsar, close to the Pakistani border.

The conference will seek ways to help improve security and bring peace to Afghanistan, which has been mired in conflict since a US-led coalition toppled the hardline Taliban government in 2001.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have also been strained over the past year, with Kabul accusing Islamabad of harbouring the leaders of Taliban and seeking to meddle in Afghan affairs.

Pakistan denies the charge. "Heart of Asia is for Afghanistan and Afghanistan is our priority," said Aziz.

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