Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday formally invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan, saying the trip would provide an opportunity to take stock of bilateral relations.

Zardari suggested that if Singh's visit coincided with celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November, it would be well received by the Pakistani people and reinforce the desire of both countries to promote inter-religious harmony.

"It gives me great pleasure to extend Your Excellency a cordial invitation to visit Pakistan," Zardari said in a letter sent to the Indian Prime Minister through the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.

"Our invitation for you to visit Pakistan is outstanding. Your visit will provide us an opportunity to take stock of our bilateral relations," he said.

Zardari also promised to organise a trip for Singh to his ancestral hometown Gah in the Punjab province.

"We could use that occasion to arrange a visit to your ancestral hometown. If the visit were to coincide with the birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib, that would not only be well received by the Pakistani nation but also reinforce our mutual desire to promote inter faith and inter-religious harmony," Zardari said.

The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak will be observed on November 28 this year.

The President recalled his "excellent meeting" with Singh in New Delhi during his private visit to Ajmer in April and expressed satisfaction over the forward movement in the bilateral dialogue process that resumed last year.

"We are happy to see that the dialogue process between our two countries is moving forward. Recently, several important engagements between our two sides have taken place," Zardari said.

"We are confident that the intensity and the range of these engagements will help promote our ties in the right direction and will also help in realising our shared dream of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia," Zardari added.

He said it was "important to sustain this process and make it more productive and result oriented".

New Delhi has remained non-committal in the Prime Minister undertaking such a visit till there was tangible outcome to pressing bilateral issues.

India and Pakistan resumed their peace process early last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The Foreign Ministers of the two countries are scheduled to meet in Islamabad on September 7 to review the latest round of talks.

The two sides have made considerable progress in talks to normalise trade relations, with Pakistan indicating that it will give India Most Favoured Nation-status by the beginning of next year.

Indian officials have linked a visit to Pakistan by Prime Minister Singh to Islamabad doing more to rein in terrorism.


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