Washington D.C., Dec.26: The United States has welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan. A State Department spokesman here said that improved ties between the two countries would benefit the entire region. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. Also Read - India to Begin 23 Waterways by 2030: PM Modi During Maritime India Summit 2021

A UN spokesperson expressed hope that the bilateral dialogue will be maintained and strengthened. When asked about the UN Chief’s response to Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Pakistan, the spokesperson said the Secretary General has long been encouraging the two countries to engage in dialogue. Earlier, Prime Minister Modi met Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at latter’s residence Raiwind Palace, the ancestral home of the Sharifs. “In a first, both PMs flew together in a chopper to Raiwind, home of PM Nawaz Sharif,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, Official Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs. (ALSO READ: Narendra Modi Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says Mufti Mohammed Sayeed) Also Read - Prove Corruption Charges or Face Criminal Defamation Suit, Narayanasamy Hits Back at Amit Shah

Prime Minister Modi also wished his Pakistani counterpart on his birthday. “Birthday wishes for PM Sharif, best wishes for #IndiaPakistan relations,” tweeted Swarup. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received his Indian counterpart at Lahore airport. Both the Prime Ministers are expected to hold meeting now. This is the first visit of Prime Minister Modi to Pakistan after assuming the office. He was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Also Read - Laga Bhi Dia, Pata hi Nahi Chala: PM Modi to Sister P Niveda After Receiving Covaxin Jab