M A I N   N E W S

Manmohan’s visit to Pak on the cards?
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Amid all the euphoria over the bonhomie witnessed at the meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan yesterday, one significant engagement of Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar virtually went unnoticed — her meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Although the PMO or the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued no press release on the meeting, the Pakistan Foreign office came out with a detailed statement on it.

"Foreign Minister Khar handed over a letter of invitation from (Pakistan) Prime Minister (Yousuf Raza) Gilani to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accepted the invitation and said he would visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient time," said the statement issued by the Pakistani side.

When asked if the PM did indeed accept the invite, official sources said, "In principle, he has accepted invitations to visit Pakistan on several occasions in the past." However, the Pakistani media extensively covered Manmohan Singh's "acceptance" of the invitation to visit Pakistan.

Such an invite was extended to him last time by Gilani when he visited India in March-end to watch the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semifinal at Mohali.

Manmohan Singh was born at Gah, a village in Chakwal district, around 100 km from capital Islamabad. His birth place has been firmly under the media glare ever since he was catapulted into the limelight in India.

Though the extension of invitations by visiting dignitaries and their acceptance is a routine diplomatic exercise, the guessing game has already started on whether the PM will honour Islamabad's invite this time around, given the positive atmosphere in the relationship after the just-concluded round of talks. After all, the Indian PM has invested so much in improving the ties with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, as the Pakistani Foreign Minister left for home at the end of her visit, India sought to dispel the impression that there was dilution in its stand on terrorism or the pace of the Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan.





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