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Pranab to visit Pakistan on January 13

After meeting Kasuri in New Delhi, Pranab says they will have substantial discussions during his Pakistan visit.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2006 16:36 IST

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will visit Islamabad on January 13 to invite Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for the SAARC summit in New Delhi in April - a visit that is also likely to see "substantial discussions" between the two neighbours on the Siachen glacier and Kashmir issue.

"I will go to Islamabad next month to formally invite President Pervez Musharraf and the foreign minister (Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri) for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit," Mukherjee told reporters after an informal lunch with Kasuri at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

"We will hold substantial discussions at that point of time. This was just an informal meeting," Mukherjee said after his talks with Kasuri on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.

"I look forward to receiving him on January 13," Kasuri, who is here on a private visit to attend the wedding of Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar's daughter, said.

"Both of us agreed that India-Pakistan relations are very important and both need to develop trust to resolve issues.

I developed trust with his two predecessors (Yashwant Sinha and K Natwar Singh) and I hope to do the same with him (Mukherjee)," Kasuri said.

"I am glad that a senior Congress leader is in charge of the external affairs ministry. That gives me great hope," Kasuri, who also had one-on-one talks with Mukherjee lasting nearly ten minutes, said.

Strong politicians are needed for improving India-Pakistan relations, Kasuri stressed.

Although Kasuri's four-day trip to India was meant to be a strictly private visit, both sides used the opportunity to build rapport between the two foreign ministers.

This was the first meeting between Mukherjee and Kasuri after the former became external affairs minister over a month ago.