Modi to club bilaterals with SAARC meet in Kathmandu

A May 2014 photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting in New Delhi. Photo: R.V. Moorthy  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will try to “to hold as many bilateral meetings as possible” when he visits Kathmandu for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit from November 25 to 27 , said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

However, it refused to comment on whether Mr. Modi would schedule a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Briefing reporters , Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the Prime Minister’s schedule was “under discussion.”

A similar statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan merely said, “ Mr. Sharif will meet other leaders of the SAARC to discuss issues of bilateral and regional interest.”

Mr. Akbaruddin didn’t rule out that there would a meeting between the two leaders at some point during the summit dates.

“Whether or not there is a bilateral, the two leaders will spend close to two days together at the plenary and concluding sessions in Kathmandu as well as at the retreat in the town of Dhulikhel,” an official told The Hindu.

The government also denied speculation over Mr. Modi’s decision to cancel his visit to Jankapur and Lumbini and said the change in programme, cutting short his visit to Nepal by one day, was necessitated by “domestic commitments and pre-scheduled domestic travel.”

Earlier, Nepal’s Transport Minister, Bimalendra Nidhi had announced that the visit had to be cancelled due to protests by Maoist opposition leaders on Mr. Modi’s plans to hold public meetings there.

Mr. Modi will also review progress on agreements between India and Nepal signed during his visit in August , including the power agreement, rail links and infrastructure construction India has committed to. The spokesperson said India was “ready to sign” agreements that have been circulated ahead of the SAARC summit on improving connectivity and integration in the region, which include energy cooperation, railways, and motor vehicle movement between SAARC countries.

Mr. Modi will return to India late on Thursday after attending a banquet hosted by Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 6:52:52 PM |

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