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Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be attending Narendra Modi's swearing in ceremony on May 26; bilateral meeting on May 27

Saturday, 24 May 2014 - 12:00pm IST | Agency: dna webdesk

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has confirmed his attendance at Narendra Modi's swearing in ceremony to be held on May 26. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz is also expected to accompany Sharif to the event. The Pakistani premier's attendance will be a first in the history of the nuclear-armed rivals, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947. 

Mohyuddin Wani, the joint secretary of the Prime Minister's office, told Reuters that Pakistan had accepted India's invitation to Sharif to attend Modi's swearing-in with other South Asian leaders. 

Nawaz Sharif, Narendra Modi to hold bilateral meeting on May 27. The delay in Sharif confirming his attendance in the oath ceremony is being attributed to opposition from hardliners in the army establishment.

In a bold step to embark on a policy of regional engagement, Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi had invited the leaders from the neighbouring SAARC nations, including Pakistan and Bangladesh to his oath taking ceremon as the country's new head of state. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) processed invites to leaders from the eight-member SAARC.

BJP today expressed "delight" at the decision of Nawaz Sharif to attend the oath taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister while Congress asked the new government to raise issues such as cross-border terrorism, slow pace of trial of 26/11 attacks and handing over of Dawood Ibrahim with the Pakistan premier. Read more

BJP leader Prakash Javadekar, commented, "Its very good news that Nawaz Sharif has accepted Modi ji's invitation." 

Also commenting on this JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said, "We welcome Nawaz Sharif to India, and also welcome Modi's changed policies, even though during whole poll campaign he spoke against Pakistan."

Congress leader Manish Tewari, said, "Hope BJP stays true to position they took for last 10 yrs against Pakistan and raises important issues."

ALSO READ: Good news that Nawaz Sharif is attending Narendra Modi's swearing in, say Indian politicians

Omar Abdullah also tweeted his approval:

Although he did add: 

Sharif's confirmation comes after days of consideration and has been the subject of much speculations and discussions among the Indian political leaders. However, Indian government were hopeful as it received 'positive signals' from Pakistan over the invitation positively. Sharif's daughter had also earlier tweeted encouraging cordial relations between the two countries.

Modi's move was lauded by leaders across parties, including the Congress' Shashi Tharoor and Digvijay Singh. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had also tweeted, "Excellent move by Narendra Modi to invite Saarc leaders, specially Pak PM for his swearing-in. Hope this is the beginning of sustained talk,''.

ALSO READ: Congress leaders take jibes at Narendra Modi's invite to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif; term it as hypocrisy

The United States, however, welcomed the Indian government's initiative and said increased engagement between India and Pakistan is a "positive step". "Broadly speaking, we welcome increased engagement between India and Pakistan and their leaders and other leaders in the region and India's engagement with its neighbours leading up to the inauguration," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. Read more

Other key SAARC leaders, Sri Lankan President President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom have confirmed that they will attend the ceremony at the forecourt of the historic Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. Following the ceremony, there will be "short duration bilateral meetings" between the Modi and the visiting dignitaries which will be attended by restricted delegation from each side.

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