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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 15:21 GMT
Musharraf to watch Delhi match
President Musharraf
President Musharraf recognises the importance of "cricket diplomacy"
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will travel to India in mid-April to watch the current cricket series, India has announced.

A spokesman for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the BBC that Gen Musharraf would watch a one-day international in Delhi on 17 April.

However, Pakistan said it had not yet confirmed the date.

This will be Gen Musharraf's first trip to India since a failed summit in 2001 and comes after a year of peace talks.

As of now there is no confirmation of the dates
Pakistani foreign office

"On 17 April, Mr Musharraf will be in Delhi to watch the cricket match. He will also meet with the prime minister," said Mr Singh's spokesman, Sanjaya Baru.

The Indian prime minister publicly invited Gen Musharraf to visit India last week, after the Pakistani leader expressed a desire to watch some of the cricket.

However, Pakistani foreign office spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Wednesday: "We are still looking at the schedule of the president and as of now there is no confirmation of the dates."

In an interview with the BBC, Gen Musharraf said he hoped to meet Mr Singh during his cricket visit.

The president's mother, son and elder brother arrived in India on Wednesday for a private visit.

Landmark tour

The second Test in the series is already under way in Calcutta.

The first test in Mohali in Punjab was drawn. It is Pakistan's first tour to India in six years.

Indian cricket fans at Mohali stadium
A cordial atmosphere has characterised the Test series

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

The two countries have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and went to the brink of a fourth in 2002.

Last year, Pervez Musharraf paid a brief visit to the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi to watch part of a cricket match between his country and the visiting Indian team.

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.

But last year's landmark Indian cricket tour to Pakistan was considered a great success.

Several confidence-building measures have gained momentum since.

On 7 April, a bus service is due to start between the Indian- and Pakistan-administered parts of Kashmir.

On Wednesday, the Indian and Pakistani chief ministers of the divided state of Punjab inaugurated a new road that will link the Indian city of Amritsar to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from the Indian Punjab visit Nankana Sahib - the birth place of the founder of Sikhism - every year.



SEE ALSO:
Test unites India and Pakistan
08 Mar 05 |  South Asia
Landmark cricket tour prompts contact
08 Mar 05 |  South Asia
Cricket among the lamas
03 Mar 05 |  South Asia
A passage to India and Pakistan
16 Feb 05 |  South Asia


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