Friday, December 25, 2015

Indian prime minister makes surprise stopover in Pakistan

Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, made a surprise stopover in Pakistan on Friday to meet his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif – the first time an Indian premier has visited the rival nation in over a decade. The visit, requested by Modi just hours earlier before he flew back home from Afghanistan, raised hopes that stop-and-start negotiations between the nuclear-armed neighbours might finally make progress after three wars and more than 65 years of hostility.

Modi phoned Sharif earlier in the day to wish him a happy 66th birthday and asked if he could make a stop in Pakistan on his way home, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Aizaz Chaudhry, told reporters. “And the PM said to him: ‘Please come, you are our guest, please come and have tea with me.’”

Modi was on his way home after a visit to Russia. He stopped off in the Afghan capital, Kabul, earlier on Friday, where he inaugurated a new parliament complex built with Indian help. The Lahore visit comes after India and Pakistan resumed high-level contact with a brief conversation between Sharif and Modi at climate change talks in Paris late last month, part of efforts to restart a peace dialogue plagued by militant attacks and longstanding distrust.

Opening the parliament building in Kabul, Modi pledged India’s support for the Afghan government and urged regional powers, including Pakistan, to work together to foster peace. “We know that Afghanistan’s success will require the cooperation and support of each of its neighbours,” he said. “And all of us in the region – India, Pakistan, Iran and others – must unite in trust and cooperation behind the common purpose and in recognition of our common destiny.”

As well as the parliament building, India is also supplying three Russian-made Mi-35 helicopters to Afghanistan’s small air force, adding badly needed capacity to provide close-air support to its hard-pressed security forces.  - Read More at the Guardian

Indian prime minister makes surprise stopover in Pakistan ...


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