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Pakistan to go ahead with plan to attend ‘Heart of Asia conference’ in India

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office Spokesperson, Nafees Zakaria, on Thursday said that Pakistan would attend the Heart of Asia conference in India starting this month and suggested the visit could be used to “defuse the tension” between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The Heart of Asia conference focusing on Afghanistan is due to be held in the first week of December in the north-western Indian city of Amritsar, close to the Pakistani border.

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

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Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, who would represent Pakistan at the conference, called on the premier on Thursday and sought guidance from him in the context of improving peace and reconciliation [process] in Afghanistan, said a PM Office statement.

Aziz’s trip to India would be the first by a senior Pakistani official since gunmen raided an army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir in September, an attack New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Speaking to media representatives in the capital, FO Spokesperson Zakaria confirmed that despite growing human rights violations in the disputed valley of Kashmir, Pakistan was ready to give peace in the region a chance by participating in the Heart of Asia conference in India.

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He also praised Donald Trump’s offer to help solve the challenges and issues being faced by Pakistan including Kashmir and a violent insurgency.

Zakaria insisted that Pakistan would welcome Trump since Islamabad wanted to have smooth and cordial relations with the US.

Commenting on a possible inclusion of other countries in the multi-billion-dollar project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the FO Spokesperson said that any such decision rested with Pakistan and China only and could be taken after deliberations between the two countries.



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