Banquet, private meetings with heads of state on cards

  • Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 23, 2014 00:11 IST

After taking oath as India’s 15th Prime Minister on May 26 in the presence of SAARC leaders and Mauritian PM Navin Ramgoolam, Narendra Modi will host a banquet the same evening for the dignitaries and have one-on-one talks with the leaders the following day.

The majority of the visiting leaders will depart after calling on President Pranab Mukherjee.

Sources in South Block told Hindustan Times that the PM-designate will be escorted from Gujarat Bhawan to Rashtrapati Bhawan just before 6 pm, by when the guests and caretaker PM Manmohan Singh would have arrived at the forecourt. After high tea, Modi will be escorted to Race Course Complex while Singh will move to 3, Moti Lal Nehru Marg. The SAARC leaders will move to presidential suites in five hotels in Lutyens’ Delhi after the swearing-in function.

According to the external affairs ministry’s programme, which was discussed by senior bureaucrats in a meeting chaired by cabinet secretary Ajit Seth on Thursday, the regional leaders will be hosted for dinner at Hyderabad House by Modi, with other high-profile guests and newly sworn-in ministers in attendance. The leaders’ meetings with PM Modi on May 27 are also scheduled at Hyderabad House, where matters of mutual cooperation and bilateral agenda will be discussed. These meetings are expected to be over by noon. “We want India’s neighbours to interact with the new PM and expand bilateral cooperation in new areas,” said an MEA official.

While foreign secretary Sujatha Singh had on Wednesday sent telegrams to all missions to inform whether any other VVIP was interested in attending the swearing-in, the invite list as of now stands at SAARC leaders and the PM of Mauritius, which has observer status in the regional grouping. The visiting dignitaries, except Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ramgoolam, will depart after meeting the President the same afternoon.

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