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|February 17, 1999||
Vajpayee, Sharief to hold talks for two days
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharief will have two days of wide-ranging discussions from February 20 when the former arrives in Lahore on the inaugural run of the Delhi-Lahore bus service.
Briefing the media on Vajpayee's visit to Lahore, an official spokesman said the two leaders will address a joint press conference after the talks which are expected to focus on bilateral matters, including the recent nuclear tests by the two countries.
The prime minister, who will travel to Amritsar by air, will board the bus on its 37-kilometre run up to Wagah in Pakistani territory.
Earlier, it was planned that, due to security considerations, the prime minister will take a helicopter from Amritsar to reach Gharinda which is just six kilometres from the Wagah border.
However, the prime minister decided that his bus journey should not be a mere symbolic gesture and he should travel at least for 37 kilometres by road.
When the prime minister reaches the Attari border, he will be given a guard of honour by the Border Security Force personnel. He will also be given a guard of honour by the Pakistani Rangers at Wagah where Sharief will personally receive him.
From Wagah, the two prime ministers will fly in a helicopter to Lahore and reach there by 1600 hours on February 20. Vajpayee will return to New Delhi the next evening by air.
The bus carrying the prime minister will be exempt from routine checks while crossing the border.
The government has decided that no media personnel would accompany the prime minister on the bus. Instead a special aircraft will be chartered to fly the media representatives to Lahore on Friday.
Since Lahore airport is small in size and does not have enough parking facilities, the Indian Airlines aircraft will return to Delhi after ferrying the media personnel and again go to Lahore the next day to bring them back.
Foolproof security arrangements have been made for the prime minister in the wake of fundamentalist groups in Pakistan protesting against his visit.
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