Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will lead a delegation to the 'Heart of Asia' conference scheduled to take place on Tuesday at Tajikistan capital Dushanbe, the Foreign Office announced
On the sidelines of the 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) ministerial conference, Qureshi will hold "consultations with key regional and international partners," it said.
The conference would also see the participation of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
The participation of both the ministers at the event has sparked speculation of a possible meeting between the two leaders amidst peace overtures from the Pakistan Army. However, both countries have not said anything about a possible meeting between the two foreign ministers in Dushanbe.
Jaishankar is expected to meet leaders of other participating countries on the sidelines of the conference, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Friday while announcing his participation.
Speaking at the India Economic Conclave in New Delhi on March 26, Jaishankar did not give a specific reply to questions on whether he will meet Qureshi on the sidelines of the conference.
"My scheduling is in progress. So far I do not think any such meeting (is scheduled)," he said.
Asked whether the agreement between the militaries of India and Pakistan and the talks between Indus commissioners of the two sides were a sign of thaw in ties, Jaishankar said, "I think the agreements between the DGMOs is a sensible agreement because I don't think Pakistan either did themselves or us good by encouraging or facilitating infiltrators and terrorists across the Line of Control and the IB (international border)."
On March 18, Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said it was time for India and Pakistan to "bury the past and move forward".
India has said it desires normal neighborly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility, and violence and that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility.
The relations between the two countries nosedived after India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories in 2019.
The ministerial conference is part of the Istanbul Process - a regional initiative on security and cooperation for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan - that was launched on November 2, 2011, in Turkey.
The Foreign Office said the ministerial meeting will be preceded by the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on March 29.
The theme of the Conference is Strengthening Consensus for Peace and Development.
During the ministerial conference, Qureshi will deliver a statement highlighting Pakistan's positive contributions to the Afghan peace process and its support for Afghanistan's development and connectivity within the regional framework, the Foreign Office said.
In 2015, Pakistan co-chaired the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, along with Afghanistan, and hosted its 5th Ministerial Conference in Islamabad.
Qureshi's visit to Tajikistan will help deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields and reinforce the growing partnership between the two brotherly countries, the Foreign Office said.