Pranab to visit Islamabad in Jan

New Delhi, Nov 27 | Updated: Nov 28 2006, 07:26am hrs
After the recent Indo-Pak foreign secretary level talks here thawed the frosty ties between the two countries following the July 12 Mumbai blasts, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee will go to Islamabad to hold substantial talks with his counterpart Khurshid M Kasuri on January 13.

He will also invite President Pervez Musharraf for the 14th Saarc summit to be held here from April 3.

This was agreed upon after informal talks were held over lunch between Mukherjee and Kasuri, who is here on a private visit, to attend a wedding. Along with the two leaders, officials from both sides were also present at the luncheon. The two sides are said to have informally discussed bilateral ties and also ways to move forward on the peace process.

I will have the privilege of receiving him during the SAARC summit for which I am not inviting him here. I will go to Islamabad on January 13 and will formally invite him and President. We will have substantial talks at that point of time, Mukherjee said.

I am happy that a very senior leader of the Congress Party is in charge of the ministry of external affairs. That gives me great hope because whatever we have to do, it requires politicians who are strong. After my meeting today, I have greater hope, Kasuri said.

The previous Indo-Pak foreign ministerial talks were held in October 2005 when the then external affairs minister Natwar Singh went to Pakistan at the end of the second round of Composite Dialogue.