Lucknow, Mar 10: A day after he had lunch with Pakistani prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf at a hotel in Jaipur, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid denied having held any formal talks on the occasion.
Ashraf was on his way to Ajmer to offer prayers at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti when Khurshid hosted him at the Rambagh Palace. The latter said on Sunday that he "received Ashraf in a formal way but there were no official talks because that was not a suitable occasion."
Khurshid was interacting with newspersons after Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel organised their 44th raising day parade at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
"If (anybody) chooses an Indian religious place like the Ajmer dargah for mental peace, we formally receive him and allow him to do what he wants," he said.
The minister pointed out that "If the Indian government talks to a government, it is done at the government level in a formal way."
To a specific query about whether he feels the ongoing India-Pakistan peace talks will succeed, Khurshid replied: "Success cannot be acquired in a day... For success, there is need to build a foundation on which a house can be constructed and people can live in peace. But it takes a long long time."
Incidentally, Ashraf's visit to Ajmer sparked minor demonstrations at several places across Rajasthan. Some local outfits and Dewan Syed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, the spiritual head of Ajmer Sharif, expressed their strong opposition to the Pakistani premier.
Abedin even boycotted Ashraf to register his protest over the beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj near the Line of Control (LoC) two months ago. The jawan of the 13 Rajputana Rifles regiment was decapitated by Pakistani troops who sneaked around 100 metres into the Mendhar sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
The intruders also killed Hemraj's colleague Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and mutilated his body.
Abedin stressed that if he assists the Pakistani PM while he offers prayers, it will be a dishonour to the families of Hemraj and Sudhakar Singh.
Despite the controversy surrounding his private visit, Ashraf prayed at the dargah and returned to Pakistan on Saturday.