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India's Modi Invites Pakistani PM to Swearing-in

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, who will be the next prime minister of India, wears a garland presented to him by his supporters at a public meeting in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, May 20, 2014
Pakistan's prime minister is among the leaders invited to the swearing in of India's prime minister-elect Narendra Modi.

A spokeswoman for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, Nirmala Sitharaman, said Wednesday that all heads of government from the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC are invited to the ceremony on May 26.

In a post on Twitter, Sitharaman called the invitation a "responsible gesture" that is being sent out via the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

It is unclear if Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will accept the invitation.

Longtime rivals India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.

Modi swept to power after his BJP won a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament, in election results announced on May 16. Prime Minister Sharif congratulated Modi on the "impressive victory" and offered "good wishes" in a telephone call last week.

A wide-ranging bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan to improve ties and seek solutions to outstanding territorial disputes, including the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, remains suspended. The breakdown occurred early last year when Indian officials accused Pakistani soldiers of crossing the Kashmir border and beheading several Indian troops - charges that Islamabad has denied.

New Delhi wants Islamabad to conclude the trial of several suspected Islamic militants accused of planing the terror attacks on Mumbai in 2008. During the recent campaign in India, BJP leaders said they would take tough action to prevent cross-border raids by militants operating in Pakistan.

Also Wednesday, the head of India's Aam Admi (Common Man) Party, Arvind Kejriwal, apologized to the people of New Delhi for quitting his post as chief minister of the Indian capital in February - after only 49 days in office.

Kejriwal's AAP, which was launched in 2012 on a platform of anti-corruption, won 28 of 70 seats in New Delhi's general assembly and formed a coalition with the Congress Party to govern the city. Kejriwal quit less than two months later and focused his efforts on the national election. He lost his race for a parliamentary seat but on Wednesday said his party hoped to win back support of the masses in another Delhi state election.

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