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Sharif to attend Modi's swearing-in ceremony, hold meeting next day

Islamabad, May 24 (PTI): Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister- designate Narendra Modi in Delhi, a spokesperson said Saturday, ending the two-day suspense over his decision amid reports that there was stiff opposition from hardliners in the establishment.

A spokesperson of the Prime Minister Office and Pakistan Foreign Ministry confirmed that Sharif would travel to Delhi to attend Modi's oath taking ceremony on Monday.

Sharif will also meet Modi on Tuesday. “There will be a bilateral meeting on the sidelines between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Mr. Modi,” Mohyuddin Wani, the joint secretary of the Prime Minister's office, said. “Mr. Sharif will also be calling on the Indian president.”

Sharif's delegation to India will include advisor Sartaj Aziz, special assistant Tariq Fatemi and foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry.

The delay in Sharif confirming his attendance in the oath ceremony is being attributed to opposition from hardliners in the army establishment.

Sharif took the decision to accept the Indian invitation after a series of consultations with his close aides, the Dawn reported, citing unnamed sources.

Modi has invited all the leaders of member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the ceremony.

Prime Minister Sharif had telephoned Modi to congratulate him on his party's election victory and invited him to visit Pakistan after assuming office.

Other key SAARC leaders, Sri Lankan President President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldive’s President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom have confirmed that they will attend the ceremony.

Earlier, Sharif's daughter Maryam had tweeted that cordial relations with the new Indian government should be cultivated.

”I personally think cordial relations with new Indian govt should be cultivated. Will help remove psychological barriers, fear & misgivings,” she tweeted.

She followed it up with another tweet, “It's upon the leaders to lead their countries & ppl to peace & conciliation.”

This was read by analysts as a possible indication of her father's desire to travel to India.