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PM not to fly over Pakistan while travelling to Bishkek for SCO meet

Thursday, June 13, 2019

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not fly over Pakistan on his way to Bishkek on Thursday to attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the External Affairs Ministry said.

It said Modi's aircraft will fly over Oman, Iran and several Central Asian countries to reach the Kyrgyz capital.

"The government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said yesterday.

He was responding to media queries regarding the route to be taken by the prime minister while travelling to Bishkek.

On Monday, a Pakistani official told PTI that Islamabad has accorded an "in principle" approval to India's request.

India's decision on the prime minister's travel route to Bishkek appears surprising as it had only requested Pakistan to let Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace when he travels to Bishkek.

The decision also came over a week after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts, pushing for restarting bilateral talks.

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.

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 is also travelling to Bishkek to attend the SCO summit and there was speculation that he and Modi may hold a meeting on the sidelines of the multilateral forum.

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