Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif are expected to steer clear of any acrimonious issues during their "short, courtesy" meeting on the morning of May 27, leaving long-standing disputes to be tackled in later, formal bilateral talks.
A combination picture of Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif and Indian PM-designate Narendra Modi. (Agency)
South Block sources told HT that this understanding was reached through back-channel dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad officials. The invitation to Pak PM Sharif was for the swearing in of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, marking the end of a long democratic process. " It is an democratic event and should not be viewed through the prism of bilateral issues," wrote top BJP leader Arun Jaitley in his blog.
While Sharif and his colleagues are expected not to make a political issue out of the invitation, the government and the incoming senior BJP leadership is unhappy at deputy national security advisor N Sandhu's public castigation of Pakistan on the terrorism issue in Jammu and Kashmir at a BSF Investiture Ceremony on May 22. Sandhu's address came after India had invited Sharif.
The Pakistan PM will be accompanied by Sartaz Aziz, advisor on foreign and military affairs, Syed Tariq Fatemi, special assistant on foreign affairs and foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, and will arrive on Monday afternoon.
Sharif, along with seven other regional leaders, will attend the function and then move to attend the grand banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee the same evening.
The leaders will then have private meetings with new Indian PM Modi at Hyderabad House on Tuesday morning and then depart from Delhi after saying goodbye to President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
With PM-designate Narendra Modi and the other SAARC leaders facing a serious terrorist threat, it has been decided that airspace over Delhi will be closed for the during the duration of the open air ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan forecourt.
After discussions with Defence Ministry it has also been decided that aerial surveillance by an IAF helicopter would be conducted during the ceremony.
The offices on Raisina Hill will observe a half day on Monday.