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Nawaz Sharif, Mahinda Rajapaksa arrive for Modi's swearing-in

Nawaz Sharif, Mahinda Rajapaksa arrive for Modi's swearing-in

Sharif said, "Pakistan wants good relations with India and I am going to New Delhi with a message of peace."

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa are among a slew of foreign dignitaries who arrived on Monday to attend Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony.

63-year-old Modi, who led BJP to an astounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls, had last week extended an invitation to six heads of state and government of the SAARC grouping to attend his swearing-in as Prime Minister.

Sharif, who is accompanied by a delegation comprising his Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry among others, arrived at the technical Air Force base in Palam.

Before his departure from Lahore, he said, "Pakistan wants good relations with India and I am going to New Delhi with a message of peace."

It is the first ever visit by a Pakistan leader to India to attend the oath taking ceremony of a prime minister-designate.

Earlier, Rajapaksa and Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam arrived in the city to attend the ceremony.

Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay and Speaker of Bangladesh Shirin Chaudhry, who is representing her Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, arrived on Sunday for the ceremony. Hasina is travelling to Japan at the time of the swearing-in ceremony.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom are among the other foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony.

This is the first time that the heads of state and government of SAARC nations have been invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony of an Indian Prime Minister, a move which is seen by political observers here as a significant initiative.