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Pakistan's Sharif to attend Modi inauguration

PM's office confirms acceptance of Indian invitation to attend swearing-in ceremony with other South Asian leaders.

Last updated: 24 May 2014 15:49
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Modi is due to be sworn in as India's prime minister on Monday at a ceremony in New Delhi [AFP]

Pakistan has accepted an invitation to Nawaz Sharif, prime minister, to attend the inauguration of Narendra Modi, India's prime minister-designate, officials say.

Sharif's attendance will be a first in the history of the neighbours, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

Mohyuddin Wani, joint secretary of the Pakistan prime minister's office, told Reuters news agency on Saturday that Pakistan had accepted India's invitation to Sharif to attend Modi's swearing-in with other South Asian leaders.

Sharif will have a "bilateral meeting" with Modi on Tuesday morning, according to a statement issued by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.

State-run Pakistan Television said Sharif would also meet Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian president, during his visit.

Relations between Pakistan and India froze after an assault on Mumbai in 2008 in which Pakistani attackers killed 166 people.

During the election campaign, Modi took a tough stance on Pakistan's role in what he called sponsoring terror attacks in India.

But since his victory, Modi has softened his stand somewhat. He has said that he would like to engage India's neighbours and have friendly relations with them.

Sharif has also said he wants to improve relations with India.

Pakistan bomb attacks

The announcement by Sharif's office came just hours after bomb attacks in Pakistan killed at least seven people.

The deadliest attack happened when a roadside bomb exploded near the village of Shati in the Mohmand tribal region, killing six soldiers, the military said.

In a statement, the military said "terrorists" planted the bomb, without elaborating.

In the capital, Islamabad, a bomb exploded in a supermarket parking lot at about 2am on Saturday, killing a guard and wounding a passer-by, Chaudhry Abid, a police officer, said.

A second bomb exploded outside another market about 5km away, breaking windows but wounding no one, Mohammad Shafqat, police officer, said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings, though authorities have blamed the Pakistani Taliban for similar attacks across the country.

Two soldiers were killed and three injured in an exchange of fire with fighters in the Landikotal area of Khyber Agency, close to the Afghan border. Eight fighters including one of their commanders were also killed.

The attacks come days after Pakistani fighter jets targeted suspected fighters' hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killing 60 people.

The military said those killed were fighters. Local residents said civilians also died.

Pakistan's government, led by Sharif, has been negotiating with the Taliban to end their violent anti-government campaign, which has killed thousands.

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