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President Zardari shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. – File Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday formally invited the Indian prime minister to visit Pakistan, an official said, the latest sign that tensions are easing between the two countries.

“I can confirm that President Asif Ali Zardari has sent a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and invited him to visit Pakistan,” Zardari's spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, told AFP.

“The letter has been sent through the High Commission (of Pakistan in India) and the president also invited PM Manmohan Singh to visit his ancestral hometown in Pakistan.”

It was not immediately clear when the visit would take place, but the Press Trust of India news agency suggested that it could be November.

The invitation is the latest bid by the neighbours to normalise relations.

The nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars since independence in 1947, but in 2010 resumed a fragile and slow-moving peace process suspended by the 2008 Mumbai attacks blamed on Pakistani gunmen.

Earlier this month, Indian cricket chiefs invited Pakistan for a series in December-January - the rivals' first in five years.

Cricket ties were also severed after the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people in India's financial capital.

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