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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal on Wednesday said no formal communication with India had so far taken place on the opening of the Kartarpur border.

He was asked during his weekly press briefing to comment on Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s remarks that India was ready to hold negotiations with Pakistan regarding the opening of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims, but an official communication from Pakistan was awaited.

Answering a question about the chances of a bilateral meeting between foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session, he said no decision had yet been taken on it. “We are engaged in the matter,” he remarked.

Spokesman hopes for early resumption of services at Pakistan’s consulate in Jalalabad

Asked if the continuous ceasefire violation by India on the Line of Control (LoC) and human rights violations in India-held Kashmir by the occupation forces was discussed during the visit of the Chinese foreign minister, he said bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting. “We keep our friends, particularly China, appraised of the situation on the LoC and in Indian-occupied Kashmir, as any escalation can have serious consequences for the whole region.”

About the suspension of consular services in Jalalabad, the spokesman said a good discussion on the subject was held with the Afghan side. “We are working with them to resolve the issue and hope that the consular services at the Consulate General in Jalalabad will be resumed soon.”

When his attention was drawn towards the prime minister’s announcement for provision of citizenship to Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan since long and asked if the issue was discussed during the visit of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Kabul, Dr Faisal said a meeting would be held under the auspices of Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) in the second week of October in Pakistan.

Asked if a bailout package will be discussed with Saudi Arabia during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to that country, he said: “Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are brotherly countries. The prime minister chose Saudi Arabia for his first foreign visit. This is a state visit. A detailed press release will be issued at the conclusion of the visit.”

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018