ISLAMABAD, Dec 16: Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will arrive here on Jan 3 along with a 50-member delegation to take part in the 12th Saarc summit being held from Jan 4-6.

The date for the arrival of the Indian prime minister was conveyed to the Pakistani authorities by the Indian government on Tuesday.

“It has been communicated to us today that Prime Minister Vajpayee will arrive here on the evening of Jan 3 along with a 50-member strong delegation,” diplomatic sources told Dawn on Tuesday.

These sources said a team of 40 to 50 Indian security personnel would be accompanying the 50-member entourage.

When former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Pakistan for the Saarc summit in December 1988 the Indian security personnel brought their own bulletproof cars.

Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha and National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra will accompany Prime Minister Vajpayee. Mr Mishra is widely seen as Prime Minister Vajpayee’s lead adviser on foreign affairs.

The sources said about 150 Indian journalists were expected to arrive in Islamabad by the end of the month to cover the preparatory meetings and the summit.

According to the schedule, the meeting of the preparatory committee headed by the Saarc directors-general and joint secretaries will be held from Dec 29 to 30. The Saarc standing committee comprising foreign secretaries of member states will meet from Dec 31 to Jan 1.

A meeting of the council of foreign ministers will be held just ahead of the summit on Jan 2 and 3.

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