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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 December, 2003, 09:51 GMT
Vajpayee confirms Pakistan visit
Mr Vajpayee plans to visit Pakistan next year
India has officially confirmed to Pakistan that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will attend a regional summit in Islamabad early next month.

A letter confirming Mr Vajpayee would attend the summit was delivered to his Pakistani counterpart, Zafarullah Khan Jamali, on Thursday morning.

It is not yet clear whether Mr Vajpayee will meet President Pervez Musharraf.

India had earlier ruled out high-level talks with Pakistan, until both states agreed to a truce in Kashmir last week.

Summit opportunity

Speaking after the ceasefire, Mr Vajpayee had told reporters he was willing to visit Pakistan and meet Mr Jamali.

Now Mr Vajpayee has written to Mr Jamali, confirming his attendance at the summit, the Indian Foreign Ministry says.

India and Pakistan recently announced a ceasefire along the de facto border, or Line of Control, dividing disputed Kashmir.

Civilians living on both sides of the border welcomed the declaration, after spending years living in the shadow of daily artillery attacks.

However, India has warned the ceasefire will remain fragile unless Pakistan can rein in the militants fighting to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

Pakistan denies having any control over the militants.

Peace moves have nonetheless gathered pace since the ceasefire, and both countries are now exploring ways to improve transport and trade links.

Next month's south Asian regional summit in Islamabad will focus mainly on trade issues, but there will be an opportunity for Indian and Pakistani officials to discuss more sensitive issues on the sidelines.

Previous talks between Mr Vajpayee and President Musharraf broke down because of differences over Kashmir.




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