BISHKEK — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan exchanged pleasantries on Friday during the SCO summit in Bishkek, official sources said.
Modi exchanged usual pleasantries with Khan in the Leaders’ Lounge at venue of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit here, they said.
It is also learnt that Khan congratulated Modi on his election victory during their first face-to-face interaction.
However, there was no meeting between the two leaders, sources said.
This is the first such interaction between the two Prime Ministers amidst the chill in the bilateral relations, triggered by the attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in February 2019.
Both Modi and Khan were here to attend the annual summit of the SCO.
The exchange of pleasantries came over two weeks after Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts, pushing for restarting the bilateral talks.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
Khan had also made a telephone call to Modi on May 26 and expressed his desire to work together for the betterment of people of the two countries.
On his part, Modi said creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.
Following the phone call and letter by Khan to Prime Minister Modi after his re-election for a second term, there were speculation that both may have a meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit here.
India-Pak Ties At Lowest Point: Imran
“Our main difference with India is Kashmir”
Pakistan’s relationship with India is probably at its “lowest point”, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said even as he expressed hope that his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, will use his “big mandate” to resolve all differences, including the Kashmir issue.
In an interview to Russian news agency Sputnik, Khan said the SCO summit provided him an opportunity to speak to the Indian leadership to improve ties between the two neighbours.
Khan said the SCO summit provided Pakistan a “fresh outlet” to develop its relationship with other countries, including India.
“At the moment, our bilateral relationship with India is, probably, at its lowest point,” he said.
Khan said Pakistan was open for “any kind of mediation” and seeks peace with all its neighbours, especially with India, asserting that the three “small wars” have damaged both the countries that now grapple with the “greatest amount of poverty”.
Khan has twice written to Prime Minister Modi, seeking resumption of dialogue on all issues, including on Kashmir.
Modi on Thursday raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan during his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Bishkek and said India expects “concrete action” by Islamabad to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue.
Khan said the emphasis should be on peace and resolution of differences through dialogue.
“Our main difference with India is Kashmir. And if the heads of two countries resolve, if two governments decide, this issue can be resolved. But, unfortunately, we have not had much success from India so far,” he said.
“But we hope now that the current prime minister has one big mandate; we hope that he will use this mandate to develop a better relationship and bring peace in the subcontinent,” Khan said.
Khan said he believed that the money should be spent on getting people out of poverty, citing China’s example, which has lifted millions of people out of poverty.
“We hope that our tension with India decreases, so we do not have to buy arms because we want to spend money on human development. But, yes, we are looking for arms from Russia, and I know our military is already in touch with the Russian military,” Khan said.
Pakistan has been holding joint military drills with Russia in the last couple of years besides going for defence purchases from it, triggering some concerns in New Delhi.