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Modi makes surprise stopover at Lahore :Foreign Office

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed ChaudhryLahore: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make a surprise stopover in Lahore to meet Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

A statement by Foreign Office Spokesman said “On his way back from Kabul to New Delhi today, Prime Minister of India will stopover in Lahore to meet Prime Minister of Pakistan.”

Modi was in Afghanistan earlier in the day, where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will receive his Indian counterpart at the Allama Iqbal International.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit was a goodwill gesture which would pave way for confidence building between the neighbouring countries.

Talking to media persons soon after the Indian Prime Minister’s departure to New Delhi here at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, he said the meeting between Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart would help resolve longstanding issues in the region, besides ending poverty.

The Foreign Secretary said Prime Minister Modi had telephoned his Pakistan counterpart in the morning today to felicitate the latter on his birthday and expressed his wish to make a stopover in Islamabad en-route from Kabul to New Delhi.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he said, told Mr Modi that he was in Lahore and the Indian Prime Minister agreed to meet him (Nawaz Sharif) in Lahore.

The Foreign Secretary said the meeting between Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart was held in a congenial atmosphere. Both the leaders discussed the longstanding issues between the two countries.  He said it was very important that both the leaders wanted to discover new vistas of cooperation and advance the dialogue process.

It was agreed that mutual cooperation would be enhanced in order to overcome poverty and strengthen ties on other regional matters, he added.

To a question, the Foreign Secretary said it was decided that Pak-Indian foreign secretaries would meet in mid-January in Islamabad to enhance the dialogue process.

All issues being discussed in the composite dialogue process would be part of the comprehensive dialogue between the both countries, he added.

Replying to another question, he said the two leaders also agreed to enhance people-to-people contacts so that the peace process between the two countries should move forward.

He said both the prime ministers had met in Paris on the sidelines of the Climate Summit in which Mr Modi had expressed his desire that the national security advisors and the foreign secretaries of the two countries should meet.

The national security advisors, he added, recently met in Bangkok.

The Foreign Secretary said Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj attended the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad and it was decided that the comprehensive dialogue should start between the two countries.

He said it was also decided at the Heart of Asia Conference that Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States and China would play their role in promoting reconciliation process in Afghanistan.The world, he added, admired Pakistan’s role for durable peace in Afghanistan.

To another query, he said civil and military leadership were on the same page to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan. The success in the war against terrorism became possible as the leadership was united, he added.

He said Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, besides Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar were present during the meeting.

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