Khurshid, Ashraf meet over lunch, terror not on table
Jaipur, March 9 : Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was Saturday hosted for lunch by Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid here, but there were no official talks between the two sides.
"It was a private visit (of the Pakistani prime minister). It was not an occasion for talks," Khurshid said, addressing reporters at the Rambagh Palace Hotel.
Though he said he did not discuss the issue of terrorism with Ashraf, the external affairs minister said he would take it up at an approprite time in future.
"This was a private visit. It was a pilgrimage (for Ashraf). This was not the occasion nor did I have the authority to discuss such issues," said Khurshid adding: "We have taken up such issues. We will do it in future. We will do it at the appropriate time."
Khurshid hosted Ashraf, who is here on a day-long private visit to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.
The luncheon meeting was held at the Rambag Palace Hotel.
Earlier, senior Rajasthan government officials received Ashraf at the Jaipur airport. He arrived in a Pakistan Air Force aircraft at around 11.55 a.m. with his family members and a delegation.
His cavalcade drove down to Rambagh Palace Hotel amid tight security.
After meeting Khurshid, Ashraf flew by chopper to the shrine in Ajmer, over 140 km from Jaipur.
"After staying for about 35-40 minutes at the shrine, he would return to Jaipur before flying back," said the official.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Ajmer in consultation with the Pakistani security team. At least 2,000 policemen have been deputed in and around the shrine area, and 10 duty magistrates have been deputed to oversee the security.
The official added that the shrine will be vacated minutes before Ashraf's arrival.
There will be snipers on rooftops in the shrine area and also at the windows of houses lining the main road leading to the shrine. Police will be deputed every 50 fifty metres of the route.
The administration has ordered closure of the shops situated in the area.
Some groups have planned protests during the visit.
The Ajmer Bar Association has demanded that the status of "state guest" given to the Pakistan prime minister be withdrawn.
The association plans to show black flags to Ashraf.
The spiritual head of the Ajmer shrine Dewan Sayed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan has also created a stir by saying that he will boycott Ashraf's visit to protest the beheading of an Indian soldier at the border.
Pakistani soldiers had Jan 8 intruded into India in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, killed two Indian soldiers and beheaded one of them. This led to escalation of tension between the two countries, but the situation eased after a flag meeting between the two sides Jan 14.