Amritsar: The two day multilateral global summit Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process conference began in Amritsar on Saturday with a focus on tackling the threat of terrorism in the region.
Tension in the India-Pakistan relationship especially in the wake of the attack at an Army camp at Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir could mean that the issue of terrorism may be the dominant theme at the conference.
On Saturday senior officials of all 14 countries, including India, China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, and representatives of 17 supporting nations were deliberating on a vast range of issues facing the region.
The main conference on Sunday will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will lead the Indian delegation at the conference in the place of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is unwell.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz is also scheduled to attend the conference however; no bilateral meeting is expected on the sidelines. Notably, the last Heart of Asia meet in December 2015 in Islamabad saw foreign ministers and foreign secretaries of both India and Pakistan holding discussions on the sidelines. Those meetings may not take place this time.
The focus of the conference would be on the peace process in Afghanistan, besides efforts to bring development and economic prosperity to it.
High security arrangements have been put in place for the sixth edition of the conference with the deployment of 6 companies of Central Armed Police Forces and state police personnel.
Nearly 40 countries and dignitaries from China, Russia, Iran and United Arab Emirates, USA, Canada and France besides the European Union will participate in the conference that is deliberating on various challenges facing Afghanistan, including revival of a peace process in the conflict-ridden country.