Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday he would like to have a televised debate with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to resolve differences between the two neighbours.
The nuclear-powered rivals have shared antagonistic relations since gaining independence 75 years ago, fighting three wars, with ties strained recently after New Delhi abrogated the semi-autonomous status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in 2019.
"I would love to debate with Narendra Modi on TV," PM Imran told Russia Today in an interview, adding that it would be beneficial for the billion people in the subcontinent if differences could be resolved through debate.
India's Ministry of External Affairs did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
"India became a hostile country so trade with them became minimal," the premier said, stressing his government's policy was to have trade relations with all countries.
The PM’s remarks follow similar comments recently by his aide on commerce, Razzak Dawood, who, according to media, told journalists he supported trade ties with India, which would benefit both sides.
Also read: PM Imran’s letter to Modi shows wisdom, vision: Chinese scholar
PM Imran said Pakistan's regional trading options were already limited, with Iran, its southwestern neighbour, under US sanctions and Afghanistan, to the west, involved in decades of war.
Pakistan shares strong economic ties with its northern neighbour, China, which has committed billions of dollars for infrastructure and other projects under its Belt and Road Initiative.
The premier’s interview came on the eve of a visit to Moscow, where he will meet President Vladimir Putin - the first visit by a Pakistani leader to Russia in two decades.
The two-day visit for talks on economic cooperation was planned before the current crisis over Ukraine.
"This doesn’t concern us, we have a bilateral relation with Russia and we really want to strength it," the premier said of the Ukraine crisis.
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