The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pervez date

Islamabad, Jan. 3: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will make a courtesy call on Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in keeping with Saarc conventions and protocol. He is scheduled to meet him along with the other SAARC heads of government at a banquet hosted by the Pakistan President tomorrow evening.

Foreign secretary Shashank told reporters here today that Prime Minister Vajpayee had been briefed on this Saarc protocol. This was the closest that India was willing to come to admitting the possibility of a Vajpayee-Musharraf face-to-face interaction.

Shashank also made a distinction between “bilateral” meetings that had been fixed between Vajpayee and the leaders of the Saarc countries and the “interaction” with the Pakistan leadership. Such “interaction”, he said, could take place during the leaders’ retreat at the Pakistan Prime Minister’s residence or at the banquet hosted by Musharraf.

“Tremendous expectations have been aroused. Either we meet those expectations or interact in the context of Saarc,” Shashank clarified. The “interaction”, Shashank said, “could be one-to-one or along with others present”.

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