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|July 14, 1998||
Sharief's envoy to visit Lanka for damage-control
A senior Pakistan official is expected in Sri Lanka for talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga as part of a diplomatic damage limitation programme following the nuclear tests, Lankan officials said on Monday.
The head of the Pakistani senate standing committee on foreign affairs, Kashmir affairs and northern affairs, Muhammad Akram Zaki, is expected to arrive in Colombo on Thursday, officials said.
The visit comes less than two weeks ahead of the South Asian summit that is due to open in Colombo on July 29.
The Indian and Pakistani prime ministers are due to have their first one-to-one meeting when they visit Sri Lanka for the SAARC summit.
Diplomatic sources said that Zaki, who will visit Sri Lanka as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's special envoy will focus on regional security issues.
Lankan officials are resigned to the fact that the summit, the 10th for SAARC, will be overshadowed by talks between the two prime ministers and the media attention will be on them rather than regional co-operation within SAARC.
The bilateral meeting is actually taking place on the sidelines of SAARC whose charter precludes discussions on bilateral issues within the seven-nation grouping.
Sri Lanka, which maintains good relations with both India and Pakistan, has said it does not oppose both countries acquiring nuclear weapons because total nuclear non-proliferation which it supports is not practical.
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