Modi accepts invite to attend SAARC summit in Islamabad

Ufa (Russia), July 10 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday accepted an invitation from his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to attend the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad next year.

According to the joint statement read out after talks between Modi and Sharif here: “Prime Minister Sharif reiterated his invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Pakistan for the SAARC summit 2016. Prime Minister Modi accepted the invitation.”

This will mark Modi’s first visit to Pakistan after becoming prime minister.

Modi’s visit to Pakistan was under a cloud following growing tension in ties between the two neighbours, over continuing ceasefire violations on the border and sharp statements from Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

The hour-long talks between the two leaders here has given a push to normalcy in bilateral ties, and also made more plausible Modi’s visit to Pakistan in an environment of relative peace.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the BJP-led NDA had attended the 12th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad on January 4-6, 2004.

The fourth SAARC summit in Islamabad saw then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi attending. Benazir Bhutto was the Pakistani prime minister then.

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