Zardari invites PM to Pak, Manmohan says yes
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said that he held constructive talks with visiting Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
Accepting the invitation extended by Zardari, the PM said he would be happy to pay a visit to Pakistan on a "mutually convenient date".
"I am satisfied with the outcome of this visit. President Zardari has invited me to visit Pakistan and I would be very happy to visit Pakistan on a mutually convenient date," Manmohan Singh said after his 40-minute meeting with Zardari.
Standing next to Zardari, Dr Singh further said that the relations between India and Pakistan should become normal, and that is our common desire.
"We have a number of issues and are willing to find practical and pragmatic solutions to those issues", the PM said.
Wishing the people of India salaam alaikum
(peace to you), Zardari said he was grateful to the Indian PM for inviting him on lunch, although he was on a private visit.
Calling the talks with Singh as fruitful, Zardari said India and Pakistan are neighbours and Islamabad would like to have better relations with New Delhi.
Zardari said: "We will like to have better relations with India. We have spoken about every issue we could have."
The PM then hosted a lunch for the Pakistan President, who is in India with a 40-member delegation.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi skipped the lunch.
Leader of BJP Parliamentary Party LK Advani, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi attended the lunch among others.
President Zardari is currently in Ajmer to pay obeisance at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. He is accompanied by a 44-member delegation.
Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who earlier warmly received Zardari at the Palam airport in New Delhi, is also accompanying the Pakistan President to Ajmer. He will also offer a chadar at Moinuddin Chishti's dargah on behalf of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Zardari, who is late by approximately an hour, had to cut short his visit to New Delhi.
The Pakistani President is accompanied by his 23-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who took over the reins of PPP after the death of his mother Benazir Bhutto in 2007; Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and senior officials of presidency.
Pakistani TV channels reported that Zardari's two daughters Asifa and Bakhtawar were also accompanying him, but there was no official word on it.
Zardari's special aircraft took off from the Old Lahore airport, which is near the international airport and mainly used for VIP and military flights. There was special security arrangement at the airport.
Tight security was also put in place on the route from the Governor's house to the airport. One of the double lanes near the Governor's House had been closed and police deployed on the route.
Zardari and his delegation travelled in a long motorcade of armoured vehicles escorted by dozens of security personnel in other cars.