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Khaqan likely to meet Modi during C’Wealth summit

Top Story

March 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will be sitting face to face next month under one-roof when they will be attending 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit in London. It will be first occasion that Abbasi and Modi will come face to face ever-since Shahid Abbasi assumed the office in August last year.

The two Prime Ministers have accepted the invitation to take part in the summit and it has been decided that Prime Minister Abbasi will raise the Kashmir issue in the summit that will be commencing on 19th of next month. It will continue for four days as two days before the summit would be devoted for the Foreign Ministers and high officials deliberations.

Highly placed diplomatic sources told The News here on Saturday that it is unlikely that Prime Minister Abbasi and Modi will have a bilateral meeting on the brinks of the summit. “Pakistan hasn’t asked for such meeting and will not ask for it. But if India makes such request Pakistan could consider it,” the sources added.

The CHOGM will be the last international engagement of Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi outside the country before relinquishing his office in the following month. Premier Abbasi will be visiting London for the fourth, fifth time since assuming the office. On all previous occasions he undertook the trip in private capacity.

The summit will be attended by 50 countries on head of government echelon out 52 member countries, the sources pointed out. The first day will be the structured summit meeting, the second day; all the leaders will go to the Windsor Castle for a retreat. “The retreat is the one leaders enjoy the most, where they can talk freely and not in a pre-scripted manner. Environment and climate change, adherence to rules-based order, new security threats like cyber security are among the issues that are going to be discussed at the summit.

Though there is no all-encompassing security architecture that is being discussed within the Commonwealth, the countries will be talking about strengthening cooperation against counter-terrorism. The officials said the CHOGM will also discuss facilitating trade among Commonwealth countries. The intra-Commonwealth trade is to the tune of US $800 billion, and the target is to take it US $1 trillion.

The summit will be preceded by a host of meetings between officials and ministers, beginning from April 16, and will conclude with the leaders’ summit. The summit which was originally designated to be hosted by Vanuatu at the end of 2017 but was moved to the United Kingdom as Vanuatu was no longer able to host the event due to the damage done by Cyclone Pam to the island nation's infrastructure. The meeting was postponed due to other international commitments.

The sources reminded that Prime Minister will visit China before proceeding to UK for the CHOGM as he will be attending Boao Forum for Asia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Qingdao Summit. The Boao Forum is scheduled to meet in China’s Hainan province on April 8-11. It will provide an important opportunity for the participating countries to enhance business interaction at bilateral and regional level.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit (SCO) 2018 will be held in the coastal city of Qingdao in East China’s Shandong province.

In the meanwhile Prime Minister Abbasi will be visiting Afghan capital Kabul on the invitation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on April 6 (Saturday) for a day long visit of the war torn country. It would be his first visit to Kabul where various dimensions of Afghan problem would come up for deliberations, the sources said.

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