HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Not SAARC meeting officially, but almost at Modi's swearing-in

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 24, 2014
First Published: 00:45 IST(24/5/2014) | Last Updated: 00:56 IST(24/5/2014)

Although Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s presence is yet to be confirmed, Narendra Modi’s inaugural on Monday will have many trappings of a SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Corporation) summit.

The last time a SAARC summit was held was in 2011, when Maldives hosted the 17th edition. The 18th summit was postponed due to the domestic issues in host country Nepal and is expected to be held later this year.

Modi’s swearing-in ceremony is set to bring these nations together. Other than the neighbours, another confirmed participation is that of Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius, which is a SAARC observer.

The confirmed participation from the SAARC member states include Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and his Nepal counterpart Sushil Koirala. Maldives president President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and speaker of Bangladesh, who is third in the constitutional pecking order in the country,  Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury will also attend the swearing-in ceremony.

Prime Minister-designate Modi is also scheduled to have meetings with all the leaders at the Hyderabad house, that is under the external affairs ministry, on Tuesday.

It is also true to the form of a SAARC summit that the India-Pakistan meet is one of the major highlights of the events.

At the last summit in Maldives too, the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani had hogged the limelight.

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