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President Zardari returns home after Indian pilgrimage

Pakistan,Indo-Pak/Pakistan,Politics, Sun, 08 Apr 2012 IANS

Islamabad, April 8 (IANS) President Asif Ali Zardari returned to Pakistan late Sunday evening after a day-long private visit to India during which he met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and paid obeisance at Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti's shrine in Ajmer.


President Zardari's son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Senator Babar Awan and Farooq H. Naek were also part of the president's delegation that comprised three-dozen dignitaries, Geo News reported.


In New Delhi, Zardari attended a luncheon hosted by Indian Prime Minister Singh, before which they held talks for 40-minutes on a range of issues.


Zardari later travelled to Ajmer Shareef to pray at the shrine revered of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti after a gap of eight years. He also announced a donation of $1 million for the dargah.


India and Pakistan, which resumed their dialogue in February last year after a post 26/11 pause, moved a step closer to their "common desire" of normalising relations after a businesslike lunch and 40 minutes one-one-talks talks between Zardari and Singh in New Delhi.


Later, in a step forward, the two leaders directed their home secretaries to discuss the issue of terror and sign a pact on easing the visa regime.


In a surprise announcement, Manmohan Singh announced at a joint appearance with Zardari, that he would be "very happy" to visit Pakistan.


It was the most positive indication so far that Manmohan Singh, who was born in an area that is now in Pakistan, could after all go on his maiden visit to the neighbouring country.


If the visit takes place, it will be the first by an Indian prime minister in the last eight years. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the last Indian prime minister to visit Pakistan in 2004.


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