Pakistan to invite PM Modi for SAARC Summit: Report

Deepika S

New Delhi, Nov 27: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to Pakistan for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said on Tuesday.

The invitation comes after Pakistan invited Sushma Swaraj, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for Kartapur corridor ceremony.

While addressing the Kashmir Conference in Islamabad, Dr Faisal recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two, reports Pakistan's Dawn News.

He added that the premier, in his response to Modi's letter, had expressed Pakistan's openness to resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue with India.

Reports indicated that India will pull out of 2018 SAARC summit that is to be hosted by Pakistan.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had recently told the media, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had very enthusiastically participated in the SAARC summit held at Kathmandu, however, given the current situation, where cross-border terrorism is destabilising the region, it was difficult to proceed with such initiatives.

Pakistan has been making efforts to host the summit, which was to be initially held in November 2016. However, in a synchronised move in September that year, India, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh informed the Saarc secretariat that its leaders would be unable to attend, citing almost similar reasons.

The four countries had linked regional cooperation to an atmosphere free of terror - meaning that Pakistan should stop sponsoring terrorism which is destabilising the region and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

The protocol of the SAARC summit dictates that the summits be held as per member's alphabetical order. The 20th SAARC summit was actually to be held in Sri Lanka this year.

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