Jul 10, 2015: PM Narendra Modi today accepted an invitation from Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif to attend the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad next year.
As per 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.”
India had previously refused to confirm Mr Modi’s participation at the next summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which brings together the leaders of eight countries.
On the other hand Mr Sharif had attended PM Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in May last year, relations between the two governments went into deep freeze because of repeated violations of the ceasefire along the border in Jammu and Kashmir.
Then, India cancelled talks between the Foreign Secretaries of both countries after the Pakistani envoy in Delhi consulted Kashmiri separatists ahead of the dialogue.
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 neighbouring countries, over continuing ceasefire violations on the border and sharp statements from Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir.
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 PM 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.