Hina Rabbani Khar - Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's first woman foreign minister - and also its youngest - was sworn in on Tuesday, ending a five-month job vacancy a week before crucial peace talks in India.

Hina Rabbani Khar, aged 34, is also expected to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the regional ASEAN forum in Indonesia this week.

“On the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the president of Pakistan has decided to elevate Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar as federal minister for foreign affairs,” her ministry said.

“Khar has the distinction of being the youngest and first woman foreign minister of Pakistan.”

Although the assassinated Benazir Bhutto was twice prime minister of Pakistan, senior government positions are usually held by men.

Khar was sworn in by acting president Farooq Naik with head of state Asif Ali Zardari holding talks in Afghanistan.

Khar travels to Indonesia later this week for the ASEAN talks, where she is expected to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Clinton, according to the ministry.

“On return, she will proceed to India for the ministerial-level dialogue in the Pakistan-India resumed dialogue process,” it added.

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