Today's Paper

Officials avoid interaction

KATHMANDU, DEC. 30. The Foreign Secretary, Ms. Chokila Iyer, and her Pakistani counterpart, Mr. Inamul Haq, avoided interaction, making evident the chill in Indo-Pak. relations, at the first session of the standing committee meeting of Foreign Secretaries of SAARC nations here today.

However, the Nepalese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mr. Pushkar Raj Bahadur, told newspersons after the first day's deliberations that the mood between the delegates of India and Pakistan ``was good''.

Asked specifically whether the two Foreign Secretaries met separately, he replied in the negative, but expressed the hope that they may get a chance to interact in the coming two days as ``both are good friends''.

At the meeting, Ms. Iyer was seated away from Mr. Haq and both of them refrained from any discussion other than SAARC issues.

The 27Th session of the standing committee started five hours behind schedule as Ms. Iyer could not reach here on Saturday because her flight was cancelled due to heavy fog. She arrived this afternoon and rushed to the conference venue.

The SAARC secretary-general, Mr. Nihal Rodrigo, presented the report about the activities of the seven member-countries. The committee adopted a provisional agenda, which included an action plan for poverty alleviation, expansion of South Asian free trade agreement, issues related to the WTO and several other programmes. - UNI

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