Islamabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the SAARC Summit likely to be held in September 2016, in what will be the first prime ministerial visit in Islamabad from India in 12 years.
The disclosure of Modi's visit was made by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in yet another indicator of a positive turn in bilateral ties after recent chill. "He will be coming," Swaraj told reporters when asked if Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the Summit.
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj makes a speech on the First day of the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad on December 9, 2015. Pic/AFP
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the last Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan who had come here in January 2004 and attended the SAARC summit besides holding talks with then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Vajpayee's successor Manmohan Singh did not undertake any visit to Pakistan despite his desire to do so.
Earlier, Indian officials said Prime Minister Modi's commitment to attend the SAARC Summit was reflected in the Ufa joint statement.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had invited Modi for the SAARC Summit when they had met for a bilateral meeting in the Russian city of Ufa in July. The meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is slated to be held in Pakistan in September next year.
Sharif had attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony in May 2014 which had generated lot of goodwill. However, ties were strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations in the last few months.
Talks between India-Pakistan National Security Advisors were cancelled recently because of a dispute over the agenda as India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir.
The two National Security Advisors met in Bangkok on Sunday last, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the 'constructive' engagement.
Swaraj arrived here on a two-day visit to attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan. In her address at the meet today, she said it was time the two countries display 'maturity and self-confidence' to do business with each other as the world was rooting for a change and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.