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Jaitley to lead Indian delegation at Heart of Asia Conference

ANI  |  New Delhi [India] 

minister will lead the Indian delegation at the two-day Sixth Heart of (HoA) conference to be held in Amritsar, Punjab, from Saturday, an external affairs ministry official said.

The conference, which will be held in India's northern Amritsar city, will see the participation of representatives from over 30 countries, including China, United States, Russia, and to discuss peace, cooperation and economic development in

is the permanent chair of the Heart of (HoA) conference, while is its co-chair, and this year is its host.

A senior foreign ministry official told reporters on Wednesday (November 30) that Indian minister will co-chair the conference with foreign minister.

"This year, the ministerial conference will be co-chaired by foreign minister (Salahuddin Rabbani) and on our side it will be the minister," said Gopal Baglay, Joint Secretary of PAI (Pakistan, and Iran) division in the ministry.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is undergoing treatment for kidney failure, will not attend the meeting.

Pakistan's Adviser on Foreign Policy, Sartaj Aziz, will also attend the conference despite strained relations between the two nations. However, it is not clear whether will hold any bilateral meeting with on the sidelines of the summit.

"We have not received any request from for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of Heart of ministerial conference," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

Relations between Pakistan and have been strained for several months, while cross-frontier shelling has intensified leading to deaths of civilians and soldiers stationed along the disputed frontier.

The latest round of problem between the nuclear-armed neighbours began with civil unrest in Indian Kashmir and Pakistan's global lobbying against New Delhi's crackdown on the Kashmiri activists.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's Ambassador to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, who was part of the press briefing in New Delhi, condemned the recent militant attack on an army unit in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Let me express my heartfelt condolences to the people of India for the tragic terrorist attack on an base in Nagrota yesterday morning which caused the loss of seven brave Indian soldiers. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms," said Abdali.

The raid in Nagrota town was the deadliest since a September 18 assault on an army base in the state that killed at least 19 Indian soldiers - the worst such assault in 14 years - triggering an escalation in tensions between the two countries.

The 'Heart of Asia' platform was floated with an aim to encourage security, political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.

The main ministerial conference will be inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ashraf Ghani on December 4.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 01 2016. 08:40 IST