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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

India welcomes Pak PM with 'open arms', says terror not discussed

AFP  Jaipur, March 09, 2013
First Published: 17:06 IST(9/3/2013) | Last Updated: 17:08 IST(9/3/2013)

Pakistan's premier Raja Pervez Ashraf visited India on Saturday to make a brief pilgrimage to Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer , with foreign minister Salman Khurshid welcoming him with "open arms".

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Khurshid's warm welcome for Ashraf -- making his first visit to India as prime minister -- came despite strained relations between the nuclear-armed rivals over recent border clashes.

"It's in our culture to welcome our guests with open arms," said Khurshid, who hosted a lunch for Ashraf at the Rambagh Palace, a luxury heritage hotel in Jaipur.

After the lunch, the Khurshid said the "issue of terrorism was not discussed" with Pakistan's prime minister.

"This was not the occasion nor did I have the authority to discuss issues like terrorism with Pakistan," Khurshid added.

On Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament ties between the South Asian neighbours could improve only if Pakistan shunned its alleged support to "the terror machine" of cross-border militancy.

A senior foreign ministry official said earlier there would be no "substantive talks" between the Pakistani prime minister and Khurshid and said India was "just extending our hospitality" by hosting the lunch.

Ashraf was the most senior Pakistani to visit India since last April when President Asif Ali Zardari made a similar pilgrimage and had lunch with Prime Minister Singh.

Ashraf and his family visited the 13th-century shrine in Ajmer, 130 kilometres (80 miles) from Jaipur.

Tensions spiked between New Delhi and Islamabad in January and February as a total of six soldiers were killed in exchanges along the de facto border in Kashmir, a region claimed by both countries.

Four of the soldiers killed were from Pakistan while two were from India. One of the Indians was beheaded allegedly by Pakistanis.


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