A Better Neighbourhood: PM Narendra Modi Meets SAARC Leaders

The talks will continue when PM Modi will meet SAARC leaders again at the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu, Nepal in November this year.

When the news of then Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi inviting his South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders for his oath taking ceremony was flashed across the media, the critics too became attentive. It was not only a first of its kind move, it was also a masterstroke.

After Monday night’s power packed dinner, PM Modi’s day today was pretty much packed too. Immediately after assuming charge and barely spending two minutes in the office, he moved to Hyderabad House where he had to hold confidential meetings with each of the SAARC leaders and representatives.

The schedule also included a meeting with Mauritius President Naveenchandra Ramgoolam at the same venue although the country is out of the ambit of SAARC. But the massive Indian presence in the country made it a natural choice for invitation at the swearing in ceremony as well as for talks.

If we have to go by the statements made by foreign secretary Sujata Singh, who briefed the press after all the meetings were over, we only know that PM Modi entered in cordial talks with all the leaders to ensure that we have a better relations with them in the future. The tit-bits that she divulged, given the meetings were confidential; we were only able to know that few issues of high importance were raised.

She said that the issue of Teesta and border dispute with Bangladesh, terrorism and 26/11 with Pakistan, economy and trade with Bhutan and Nepal, security of Tamil nationals with Sri Lanka and mutual help in oil and natural gas exploration with Maldives was raised.

She chose to refrain from divulging anything more from the talks. In fact, Aghanistan President Hamid Karzai was more helpful in that manner. Not only he divulged that his talks with PM Modi included attack on Indian consulate in Heart, he also divulged that Lashkar-e-Toiba was involved in the attack. He is also reported to have told the press that terrorist Mulla Omar is in Pakistan and that India has supposedly talked on the issue with its neighbor.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif too in his brief press statement said that the talks were fruitful and that the two countries will keep in touch through their foreign offices.

The firm handshakes and the diplomatic answers later on do mean that the ountries are keen on talking to each other. In fact, PM Modi has accepted invitations from all the countries; however, any specific date or month for the visit is not mentioned.

The talks can be summed up as fruitful for the leaders from all the countries expressed their happiness over the outcome. The talks have indeed formed a platform for the countries from where they can take the cordial relations forward with the new PM of India.

The talks will continue when PM Modi will meet SAARC leaders again at the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu, Nepal in November this year.

A better neighbourhood is what we can expect during Modi’s term, for now.

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