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Sat Dec 26, 2015, 09:02 AM

Indian prime minister makes surprise stopover in Pakistan

Wouldn't it be nice if peace actually broke out between these traditional - and nuclear-armed - enemies?


Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, made a surprise stopover in Pakistan on Friday to meet his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif – the first time an Indian premier has visited the rival nation in over a decade. The visit, requested by Modi just hours earlier before he flew back home from Afghanistan, raised hopes that stop-and-start negotiations between the nuclear-armed neighbours might finally make progress after three wars and more than 65 years of hostility.


Modi was on his way home after a visit to Russia. He stopped off in the Afghan capital, Kabul, earlier on Friday, where he inaugurated a new parliament complex built with Indian help. The Lahore visit comes after India and Pakistan resumed high-level contact with a brief conversation between Sharif and Modi at climate change talks in Paris late last month, part of efforts to restart a peace dialogue plagued by militant attacks and longstanding distrust.

A spokesman at Sharif’s office earlier said the two leaders were to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, the most contentious issue dividing the nations. A close aide to Modi said the visit was a spontaneous decision by the prime minister and his national security adviser, Ajit Doval, and that it should not be seen as a sudden shift in India’s position. “But yes, it’s a clear signal that active engagement can be done at a quick pace,” the aide said, declining to be identified.

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