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No meeting was held between PM Modi and Imran Khan during the summit. (File)
No meeting was held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Imran Khan during the informal dinner hosted by Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov for the leaders attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek on Thursday, news agency ANI has reported, quoting sources. PM Modi and Imran Khan did not even exchange pleasantries during the dinner hosted on the sidelines of the two-day summit, the report added.
PM Modi, on the sidelines of the summit, reiterated to Chinese President Xi Jinping India’s stand that Pakistan should take concrete action against terror before talks can resume. “Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terror, but at this stage we do not see it happening. We expect Islamabad to take concrete action” to resume talks, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale quoted the Prime Minister as telling Xi Jinping. China is Pakistan’s all-weather ally.
Before PM Modi left for Bishkek, India had ruled out any bilateral meeting with Pakistan. India has said cross-border terror must stop and Pakistan must take action against terror groups operating from its soil before dialogues can begin.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had written separate letters to their Indian counterparts, ahead of the SCO summit, pushing for resumption of bilateral talks. After assuming office too, Imran Khan had written to PM Modi, seeking dialogue on all issues, including Kashmir.
On Wednesday evening, after the ministry said PM Modi won’t fly over Pakistan on his way to Kyrgyzstan — a move seen as a snub — Islamabad said its airspace was open for the VVIP flight. Pakistan had closed its airspace in February after the Balakot air strikes. PM Modi’s flight, however, took a different route to Bishkek.
India’s pressure on Pakistan to take action on terrorists acting from its soil spiked after the February 14 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, in which 40 soldiers died.
At last year’s SCO summit in China’s Qingdao, PM Modi shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with then Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, amid frosty bilateral relationship between the two sides.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is an eight-member group led by China that cooperates chiefly on trade and security.
With inputs from ANI and PTI