Nawaz, Modi hold meeting; agree to continue, enhance contacts

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JATI UMRA, Dec 25 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Friday expressed their desire to carry forward the dialogue process for larger good of peoples of the two countries.

The two leaders met here at the residence of Prime Minister Sharif, as Prime Minister Modi made a brief surprise stopover in Lahore on his way back to New Delhi from Kabul.

“Prime Minister of Pakistan welcomed the initiative of the Prime Minister of India to visit Lahore,” the Foreign Office Spokesman said in a statement issued after the meeting.

“The two prime ministers agreed to continue and enhance contacts and work together to establish good neighbourly relations,” the statement added.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, while talking to newsmen in Lahore, said the meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and Prime Minister Modi was held in a very cordial environment in which the two leaders exchanged views in an environment of goodwill.

“It was a goodwill visit by the Indian Prime Minister, and our Prime Minister welcomed it,” he remarked.

During the meeting, the Foreign Secretary said the two sides expressed their desire that the bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue Process, which was going to start next month, should go ahead in a positive way, so that there wad confidence building and the two countries moved towards resolution of disputes and focus on real issues, including poverty faced by South Asia.

The meeting was also attended by Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar.

Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accorded a warm welcome here at at the Allama Iqbal International Airport.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif received his Indian counterpart.

The two leaders embraced and warmly shook hands.

The Punjab Chief Minister and Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were also present at the airport to receive the guest.

A young girl presented a bouquet to the Indian leader.  The two leaders later boarded a helicopter to the Prime Minister’s residence at Jati Umra.

Upon arrival at Jati Umra, the Indian Prime Minister was received by the sons of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

It was the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan in a decade.

A strict security cordon was thrown around the Lahore airport and the airspace closed for commercial flights.

Personnel of elite police were also deployed around the airport.

It was a closed holiday in Pakistan as the nation was celebrating the 139th birth anniversary of the Founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Modi was in Afghanistan earlier in the day, where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and inaugurated the new Parliament building.

Modi, earlier in a tweet, said he was “looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi.”

The thaw in ties came after months of tension and clashes along the Line of Control in which dozens of Pakistani citizens had been martyred by unprovoked firing by the Indian army.

According to diplomatic sources, India was under intense international pressure following Pakistan’s strong stance at the United Nations and submission of three dossiers comprising proofs of Indian involvement in subversive activities in Karachi and Balochistan.

The brief huddle between the two leaders on the sidelines of the Climate Summit at Paris led to the announcement of resumption of dialogue between the two countries, that would discuss all issues, including the lingering Kashmir dispute.

Later, the Indian Prime Minister on Friday evening left for New Delhi.

Prime Minister Sharif saw off his Indian counterpart at the Allama Iqbal International Airport.

Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar and senior government functionaries were also present on the occasion.