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US not attending Modi inauguration

The United States welcomed hopes of better ties between India and Pakistan as Indian prime minister-elect Narendra Modi invited Pakistan's premier Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in, which the US said it will not attend.

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday welcomed hopes of better ties between India and Pakistan as Indian prime minister-elect Narendra Modi invited Pakistan's premier Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in, which the US said it will not attend.

"Broadly speaking, we welcome increased engagement between India and Pakistan and their leaders and other... leaders in the region," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

More dialogue between the two neighbours "is a positive step," Psaki added.

But she revealed that as in past years Washington was not planning to attend the inauguration set for Monday.

"We don't have any plans to send a representative from the United States. It's standard for events and inaugurations in India, so it should come as no surprise," she told reporters.

Ties between Washington and New Delhi have chilled in recent months after the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York on charges of abusing her maid.

And the election of the Hindu nationalist Modi has also posed a headache for Washington, which controversially refused him a visa to visit the United States in 2005 when he was chief minister of Gujarat.

The refusal stemmed from allegations he turned a blind eye or worse to anti-Muslim riots in the western state three years earlier.

Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have congratulated Modi on his election.

In a message sent to Kerry on his Twitter account, Modi talked about strengthening "relations between our 2 vibrant democracies in the years to come."

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