Visit To India Could ‘Defuse Tension: Aziz

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Islamabad: Sartaj Aziz, who functions as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, said he will travel to India early next month for a conference, describing his visit as “good opportunity to defuse the tension.”

Despite hinting at a possible detente, Mr Aziz said there was no meeting scheduled with Indian officials. “It’s early to say. Depends upon the situation,” he said to a Pakistani television channel.

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Mr Aziz is the adviser to Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs; his trip to India would be the first by a senior Pakistani official since terrorists from Pakistan attacked an army camp in Uri in September, killing 19 soldiers.

India retaliated with surgical strikes that saw soldiers crossing the Line of Control to target gathering areas for terrorists in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Islamabad has denied the cross-border raids by India.

Since then, heavy shelling and firing across the simmering Line of Control has killed soldiers and civilians. Earlier this week, Pakistan made a rare admission to casualties, stating that seven soldiers were killed overnight by India, which said it was retaliating to an attempt by Pakistan to deploy terrorists across the de-facto border.

In recent weeks, both Islamabad and Delhi have accused each other’s diplomats of spying and have expelled them.

The Heart of Asia conference focusing on Afghanistan is due to be held in the first week of December in Amritsar.

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

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