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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 17:28 GMT
India silent on Musharraf visit
Saqlain Mushtaq and Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf with spinner Saqlain Mushtaq in Rawalpindi
India has given a pointed "no comment" to reports it might invite Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to watch the India-Pakistan cricket series.

Indian foreign office spokesman, Navtej Sarna, said such talk was getting into "an existential area".

On Friday, Gen Musharraf said he would love to see some of the cricket series - but only if invited.

Pakistan are on their first tour to India in six years. The first Test starts in Mohali on Tuesday.

Thousands of Pakistanis have obtained visas to travel to the game.

'Cricket diplomacy'

Mr Sarna said of a possible Musharraf visit: "I don't have a response to that. When the Indian government takes a view on any of these issues and I have a response, I will be happy to share that with you.

I don't believe in going anywhere without an invitation. If there is an invitation, one would like to consider
President Musharraf

"I think we are getting into an existential area which I would not like to discuss in front of television cameras."

Gen Musharraf told Pakistan media on Friday: "I love watching any sport. I would love to watch cricket."

But he added: "I don't believe in going anywhere without an invitation. If there is an invitation, one would like to consider."

Gen Musharraf's hint echoes the "cricket diplomacy" coined by former Pakistani leader Gen Zia-ul Haq, who watched a match in Jaipur in 1987 during a time of strained bilateral relations.

The president paid a brief visit to the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi to watch some of a Pakistan-India one-day game last year.

Sporting ties are an important bellwether of bilateral relations and suffered in recent years before a rapprochement instigated by former Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee in April 2003.

Last year's Indian tour to Pakistan was considered a great success.

The current tour comprises three Tests and six one-day games.

Up to 8,000 Pakistani fans are expected at the first Test.


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