Modi, Sharif Maintain Distance At SAARC Summit: No Meeting, No Exchange Of Courtesies

Thursday, 27 November 2014, 11:09 Hrs
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KATHMANDU: They shared the dais but leave alone a handshake, there was no exchange of courtesies between Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan during the nearly three-hour Saarc Summit here on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, who were sitting two seats away from each other, did not look at each other even when Sharif crossed before and after delivering his speech at the 18th meeting of the eight-member regional bloc.

Leaders of Maldives and Nepal were seated between Modi and Sharif.

Though there is no "structured" meeting scheduled between the two leaders, a brief exchange of pleasantries was expected given that they would be attending the same conference and the retreat on Thursday.

While on Tuesday Sharif had sought to put the ball in India's court for an initiative for talks, saying "cancellation of talks was New Delhi's unilateral decision," and "ball is now India's court for talks between both the countries".

India maintained that it was for "meaningful dialogue" which involves specifics.

"We have been shouting from the top of the roof that we are ready for meaningful dialogue. The emphasis was on meaningful. The meaningful dialogue has a meaning in diplomacy. In Pakistan, they know it very clearly what we mean by meaningful dialogue as they know us and understand us. They know everything," external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said when asked about Sharif's remarks.

Six years to the day when Pakistani terrorists killed 166 people in Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the pledge taken by Saarc nations to combat terror and transnational crimes should be fulfilled.

"Today, as we remember the horror of the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008, we feel the endless pain of lost lives. Let us work together to fulfil the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and trans-national crimes," Modi told the Saarc leaders who included Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

During his nearly 30-minute speech at the summit, Modi outlined India's various initiatives in key sectors of health, science, visa regimes and connectivity for the Saarc region as he pitched to turn South Asia of "flowering hope into a rich field of peace and prosperity" by collective efforts.

He said joint efforts were "more urgent than in South Asia; and, nowhere else is it so modest."

Besides India, the eight-member Saarc bock include Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives and Afghanistan.

Read More: Women Can't Be Secured By Curbing Their Freedom, Says CJI and India Commemmorates Mumbai Attack On 6th Anniv,Still 'Endless'

Source: PTI
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