Khurshid to host lunch for visiting Pak PM Ashraf
The government said the lunch is part of diplomatic courtesy being extended to the visiting dignitary and there will not be any substantive dialogue.
New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is scheduled to visit Ajmer sharif on Saturday. Before his pilgrimage, he will have lunch with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Jaipur.
The government said the lunch is part of diplomatic courtesy being extended to the visiting dignitary and there will not be any substantive dialogue. "I will be having lunch and only lunch no talks," said Khurshid.
"Pakistan prime minister is coming for religious and spiritual visit. we will say hello and obviously, when we say hello we just don't only say hello. But there is no agenda for formal talks," the Union Minister added.
"Khurshid will host a lunch for him (Ashraf) at a local hotel (Rambagh Palace) in Jaipur following which Pakistan Prime Minister will depart for Ajmer. Upon completion of prayers at Ajmer, the visiting Prime Minister will return to Jaipur the same evening and take a special flight back to Islamabad. The Pakistan Prime Minister is not visiting New Delhi and no substantive discussions are scheduled to be held in Jaipur," official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said while giving details of Pakistan Prime Minister's trip to Jaipur.
Asked if a proposal for a meeting in New Delhi was made by India, he said the visiting dignitary had expressed the desire to undertake a private visit and "all requirements to meet his needs are met. In addition we have not received any other request."
On why Indian government was going out of way to interact with Pakistani leader when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made it clear that it cannot be "business as usual" after the beheading of an Indian soldier near LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, the spokesperson said, "There will not be any substantive discussions and that said, he is Prime Minister and Head of State with which we have diplomatic relations. It is an important country. And in accordance with normal diplomatic protocol we are extending him due courtesies."
Ashraf's visit is unlike his President Asif Ali Zardari's trip who came on a day-long visit last April and made a three-hour stopover in New Delhi before flying to Ajmer. Singh had hosted lunch for the visiting Pakistani President and two leaders also held comprehensive talks.
The official spokesperson also said Ashraf will be accompanied by members of his family and they will be arriving in Jaipur on the morning of March 9.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)