ISLAMABAD — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a surprise stopover in Pakistan to meet his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, the first time an Indian premier has visited the rival nation in over a decade.
Mr Sharif hugged Mr Modi after he arrived at the airport in the eastern city of Lahore before the two boarded a helicopter for Mr Sharif’s nearby estate, state television showed.
A spokesman at the Pakistani Prime Minister’s office said the two leaders would discuss a range of bilateral issues, including the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, the most contentious issue dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.
Mr Modi was on his way home after a visit to Russia. He stopped off in the Afghanistan capital Kabul earlier on Friday.
His visit is the first by an Indian prime minister to Pakistan since the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed in the Indian city by militants trained in Pakistan.
After months of a freeze, India and Pakistan resumed high-level contacts with a brief conversation between Mr Sharif and Mr Modi at climate change talks in Paris late last month, part of efforts to restart a peace dialogue plagued by militant attacks and long-standing distrust.
External Link: Modi hugs Sharif tweet
Mr Modi, who inaugurated a new parliament complex built with Indian help in Kabul, spoke to Mr Sharif earlier on Friday to wish him well on his 66th birthday.
“Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” Mr Modi tweeted.
The two prime ministers flew to Mr Sharif’s estate in Lahore named Jati Umra, after his family’s ancestral home in a Punjabi village in India, Pakistan state TV said.
India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said the move should not be seen as a sudden shift in India’s position.
The two countries were born out of British colonial India in 1947, divided into Hindu-majority India and Islamic Pakistan.
Mr Modi, a Hindu nationalist, came to power in 2014, and authorised a more robust approach to Pakistan, giving security forces the licence to retaliate forcefully along their disputed border and demanding an end to insurgent attacks in Indian territory.
PM Oli expands cabinet, 15 new ministers inducted
KATHMANDU — Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has has expanded the Cabinet inducting 15 new ministers from his party CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), increasing the size of his Cabinet to 22 on Friday.With this, the cabinet led by PM Oli has been extended to 21 members.
Six lawmakers from CPN-UML and five from CPN Maoist Centre lawmakers have been inducted as Ministers to the Cabinet. Likewise, three lawmakers are included as Minister of State.
The newly appointed ministers and state ministers were administered the oath of office at President’s office in Sheetal Niwas, by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at Sheetal Niwas amid an official function.
The newly ministers are as follows :
Gokarna Bista – Minister for Labour and Employment
Pradeep Kumar Gyawali – Minister for Foreign Affairs
Rabindra Adhikari – Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation
Jagat Bishwakarma – Minister for Youth and Sports
Sher Bahadur Tamang – Minister for Law
Raghubir Mahaseth – Minister for Physical Infrastructure Planning and Development
Gokul Baskota – State Minister for Information and Communication
Padma Kumari Aryal -State Minister for Health and Polulation
CPN Maoist Centre
Barsha Man Pun -Minister for Energy and Water Resources
Giriraj Mani Pokharel – Minister for Education
Shakti Basnet – Minister of Forestry
Chakrapani Khanal – Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives
Bina Magar – Minister for Drinking Water
Ram Kumari Chaudhary – State Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives
PM Oli, earlier in the second expansion of his Cabinet, had appointed CPN (Maoist Centre)’s Ram Bahadur Thapa as Minister for Home Affairs, CPN (Maoist Centre)’s Matrika Yadav as Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, former governor Yabaraj Khatiwada as Minister for Finance, and CPN-UML’s Ishwor Pokharel as Defence Minister.Follow @gorkhapost