PM Ashraf, Indian External Minister discuss bilateral issues over lunch

JAIPUR: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf arrived India on Saturday for a day-long pilgrimage to the shrine of the Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (RA) in Ajmer Sharif, with Indian External Minister Salman Khurshid welcoming him with “open arms”.

“It’s in our culture to welcome our guests with open arms,” said Khurshid to PM Ashraf at his arrival.

Khurshid, who had ruled out any diplomatic talks with the visiting Pakistani PM, hosted a lunch in his honour at Rambagh Palace in the tourist city of Jaipur in northern India.

According to Indian media reports, bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest came under discussion during the lunch. However, issue of terrorism was not discussed between the two leaders.

“This was a private visit. It was a pilgrimage (for Ashraf). This was not the occasion nor did I have the authority to discuss such issues,” Khurshid told media persons after the lunch in reply to a question that whether terrorism was discussed with his guest.

“We have taken up such issues. We will do it in future. Today it was a private visit. There was no official talk. We will do it at the appropriate time,” the minister said.

Ashraf and his family planned a day-long private trip to the 13-century shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer, 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Jaipur.

Ajmer Sharif security has been beefed up in view of his arrival. The shrine would be vacated before the arrival of PM. Indian TV said that heavy contingents of police have been deployed.