x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Pakistan PM arrives in India to 'open arms'

India welcomes Raja Pervez Ashraf to Jaipur where he was on a pilgrimage to a Muslim shrine.

JAIPUR // Pakistan's premier, Raja Pervez Ashraf, visited India yesterday to make a brief pilgrimage to a revered Muslim shrine, with India's foreign minister welcoming him with "open arms".

Salman Khurshid's warm welcome for Mr Ashraf, making his first visit to India as prime minister, came despite strained relations between the countries over recent border clashes.

"It's in our culture to welcome our guests with open arms," said Mr Khurshid, who hosted a lunch for Mr Ashraf at a luxury heritage hotel in the tourist city of Jaipur in north-west India.

After the lunch, the Indian foreign minister said the "issue of terrorism was not discussed".

"This was not the occasion nor did I have the authority to discuss issues like terrorism with Pakistan," Mr Khurshid said.

On Friday, India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, told parliament ties could improve only if Pakistan shunned its alleged support to "the terror machine" of cross-border militancy.

Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India since independence from Britain in 1947, rejects New Delhi's charges that it supports militant attacks on Indian soil.

Some Indians, including the symbolic spiritual head of the Ajmer shrine, Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, objected to Mr Ashraf's pilgrimage.