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Pak commerce minister to travel to India later this month

February 06, 2013 19:45 IST

Weeks after calling off a scheduled visit to India amidst mounting tensions over ceasefire violations along the Line of Control, Pakistan's Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim will travel to New Delhi later this month for bilateral talks.

Fahim, one of the top leaders of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, will begin a four-day visit to India from February 21, commerce ministry officials were quoted as saying by state-run Radio Pakistan today.

Besides holding talks on bilateral trade with Indian officials, Fahim will attend a SAARC business conference, the officials said.

Late last month, Fahim had called off a scheduled visit to India following tensions between the neighbours over ceasefire violations along the 742-km LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

Fahim and Commerce Secretary Munir Qureshi were scheduled to visit India during January 27-29 to participate in a Partnership Summit being organised in Agra.

Fahim was invited to the meet by his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma. At the time, Fahim had said that he had decided against travelling to India to attend a business meet as the trip would have clashed with a meeting between a government team and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, who is demanding sweeping reforms before Pakistan's upcoming general election.

However, official sources said Fahim's decision was linked to the spike in tensions between India and Pakistan over a string of clashes along the LoC that left two Indian soldiers dead.

The directors general of military operations of both sides later agreed to take steps to de-escalate tensions.

In recent weeks, differences have also emerged between Fahim and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar over the issue of giving Most Favoured Nation-status to India.

Media reports said Khar had held Fahim responsible for the delay in giving MFN-status to India.

Pakistan missed a December 31 deadline for phasing out a negative list regime for trade and giving MFN-status to India. Fahim recently said the process was delayed to address the concerns of Pakistani industries.

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