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PM Narendra Modi to be invited by Pakistan to attend SAARC summit

By FnF Desk | PUBLISHED: 27, Nov 2018, 21:47 pm IST | UPDATED: 27, Nov 2018, 22:24 pm IST

PM Narendra Modi to be invited by Pakistan to attend SAARC summit New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to Pakistan for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit, said Pakistan's Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal.

Addressing a conference in Islamabad, Faisal recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two.

Prime Minister Modi will be invited to Pakistan for the SAARC summit, Faisal was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.

Sources in the know say New Delhi is keeping its options open.

The invitation comes after Pakistan invited Sushma Swaraj, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for Kartapur corridor ceremony.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will be joined by two Indian Ministers to lay the foundation stone at the Pakistani side, where pilgrims from India will be able to visit their revered Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) by November 2019, to mark the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak.

No Indian Minister has visited Pakistan since Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s SAARC visit in 2016, which was followed by the Uri attacks. Thereafter, New Delhi launched surgical strikes on terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

SAARC Summits are usually held biennially hosted by a member state in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association.

The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Modi.

In September after announcing that foreign ministers of the two countries would be meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York, India cancelled the proposed talks over the killing of three special police officers in Kashmir which it blamed on "Pakistan-based entities".

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said talks in the current circumstances would be "meaningless" and also cited stamps issued by Pakistan in July in memory of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani as a reason for the cancellation of talks.

Lashing out, Imran Khan said he was "disappointed at arrogant and negative response by India" to his call for "peace dialogue".

Meanwhile, former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu arrived in Pakistan to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor at the invitation of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Prime Minister Imran Khan will perform the groundbreaking on Wednesday.

Sidhu thanked Khan and told journalists at Wagah that he had come with “a message of love and peace”.

“The seed sown by Imran Khan three months ago has become a tree and me and 120 million Sikhs could not be happier. I want to thank the Pakistani prime minister and officials,” he said, speaking in Punjabi.

“The Karturpur corridor will prove to be a path of peace and instead of 60 years, happiness can come in six months through it. This corridor will be the reason that borders between both the countries open,” Sidhu added.

The proposal to construct the corridor was mentioned by Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to Sidhu when he attended Imran Khan’s swearing-in in August. The 4-km corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district with Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib at Narowal in Pakistan and provide visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims to the gurdwara built at the spot where Guru Nanak died.

On Monday, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone for the Indian section of the corridor in Gurdaspur.
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