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‘Too early to talk about Modi’s invitation to Kartarpur inauguration’

July 14, 2019
 

Photo: Foreign Office/Twitter

An eight-member Indian delegation visited Pakistan via the Wagah Border Sunday morning for talks on the Kartarpur corridor. 

The delegation was being headed by the joint secretary of external affairs. Pakistan’s 20-member delegation was headed by Dr Mohammad Faisal, the Foreign Office spokesperson and its director-general of South Asia.

According to the Times of India, the Indian side would be bringing up issues such as infrastructure, pilgrims’ movement and safety.

Dr Faisal informed the meeting that 70% of the construction work has been completed on the Pakistan side. He expressed his hope that the talks would be fruitful.

He also reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to opening the corridor on Baba Guru Nanak’s birthday. Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier said he wanted the corridor to be operational by then.

Speaking to the media following the meeting, Dr Faisal said they had an in depth and productive meeting on the draft agreement and have committed to opening the corridor for Baba Guru Nanak’s birthday. Technical details were also discussed, he said.

He also said that the Pakistani side planted a peace sapling but the Indian side could not participate because they were short on time and had to return to India.

Related: Kartarpur Corridor to be inaugurated in November

He said there were positive developments but did not divulge the agreement itself or the numbers. It is the accepted norm that until the agreement is finalised, we will not share details, said the spokesperson.

However, he did say that “80% and beyond” had been agreed upon. Another meeting will be needed to finalise the remaining 20%, he said.

The Foreign Office spokesperson acknowledged that Pakistan had received a dossier from India, purportedly on whom they do not want to be part of the project, but said Pakistan has sent them 12 dossiers of its own and had not received a reply. It’s a corridor for peace, he said.

When asked about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence at the Kartarpur corridor inauguration, he said “it’s too early to say anything”.

The last round of talks on April 2 were postponed by India. The meeting was supposed to be held in Pakistan’s Wagah following the March 14 meeting in India’s Attari. But India had taken issue with reports that a pro-Khalistani leader has been appointed to a Pakistani committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor.

The two countries have been in talks over the details of opening the Katarpur Corridor, a 4km passage connecting Dera Baba Nanak in India to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. On November 28, 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Corridor, which will provide Indian Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to the shrine. The corridor is expected to be opened in November.

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