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A Step Towards Peace? India Invites Pakistan Minister To WTO Talks In Delhi

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 1
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| February 26 , 2018 , 08:18 IST

Despite the frequent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, militant attacks and infiltration attempts connected with Pakistan, India has reportedly invited its Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik to participate in the upcoming World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Delhi.

The Pakistan Commerce Minister is said to have confirmed his attendance, reported the Indian Express, for the event taking place in Delhi on March 19-20 where 50 prominent members of the WTO will also be present.

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Malik would be meeting with his Indian counterpart Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, but it is not yet confirmed whether he would be meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi or External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Sartaj Aziz was the last Pakistani leader to visit India in December 2016 for the 'Heart of Asia' conference, while he was the foreign affairs advisor of Pakistan.

The invitation to the event comes soon after the global Financial Task Force (FATF) threatened to isolate Pakistan if it did not stop using "terrorism as an instrument of state policy". Pakistan has been facing increasing pressure by the international community to take action against 'safe havens' for terrorists on its soil, with the US suspending financial aid to the nation as well.

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Although the decision to invite Pakistan for the World Trade Organisation has already been confirmed, the Centre's decision regarding the participation of India in the SAARC summit in Pakistan has yet to be confirmed.

The last summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was scheduled to take place in Pakistan in November 2016, however, after the 2016 Uri attack, India pulled out of the summit. After India, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives also withdrew from the summit, resulting in its cancellation.

While Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that India will give swift retribution to Pakistan's actions against it, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti advocated peace talks as the best way to move forward.