NEW DELHI — Narendra Modi took the oath of office as India's new prime minister at the sprawling presidential palace on Monday, a moment made more historic by the presence of the leader of archrival Pakistan.
Modi's inauguration is the first to which India invited leaders from across South Asia. Heads of government from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Maldives, Nepal and Afghanistan attended, and Bangladesh was represented by the speaker of its Parliament.
But most eyes remained on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose visit could signal a thaw in relations between the often hostile neighbors.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath to Modi and his Cabinet as thousands of guests, including politicians, business leaders and movie stars, watched. Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was seated next to Sharif.
Analysts said Sharif's presence signaled an easing of tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.
Modi and Sharif are to hold formal talks on Tuesday.
Sharif called his visit "a chance to reach out to each other" and "a great opportunity," in an interview with NDTV news channel.
"Both governments have a strong mandate. This could help in turning a new page in our relations," he added.