PM may visit Pakistan in September: Reports

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has accepted an invitation extended by President Asif Ali Zardari to visit Pakistan.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may pay a visit to Pakistan in September, sources said on Sunday.

The reports come as Dr Singh accepted an invitation extended by President Asif Ali Zardari to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient time. If the visit takes place, it will be the first by an Indian prime minister to Pakistan in the last eight years.

"President Zardari has also invited me to visit Pakistan … I would be very happy to visit Pakistan on a mutually convenient date," said Manmohan Singh, who was born in the village in Gah in Pakistani Punjab.

India and Pakistan moved a step closer to their "common desire" of normalising relations after a businesslike lunch and talks between visiting Zardari and Manmohan Singh here on Sunday. The two leaders discussed the entire gamut of bilateral issues before Manmohan Singh announced he would be "very happy" to visit Pakistan.

Zardari, who came to India on a six-hour private visit cloaked as a pilgrimage to the Sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan, held a 40 minute-long private talks with Manmohan Singh at his 7, Race Course Road residence, followed by a lunch where others in his 40-strong delegation, that included his son Bilawal, joined in.

Zardari was accompanied by around 40-member delegation that includes his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar and close members of the family.

This was the first presidential visit from Pakistan in the last seven years. Pervez Musharraf was the last president to visit India in April 2005 for the failed Agra summit.

Zardari last met Manmohan on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in 2009.

(With IANS inputs)