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Modi-Sharif meeting can be facilitated at SAARC summit
22 Nov 2014

The leaders of SAARC countries can “facilitate” a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during the “informal” sessions of the summit on November 26 and 27, said Nepal foreign minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey.

Pandey, speaking to The Indian Express over telephone from Kathmandu, also said that “three agreements on energy, rail connectivity and motor vehicles will be signed” at the 18th SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit, which is being hosted by Nepal.

When asked whether strained relations between India and Pakistan were a challenge for the eight-member grouping, the minister said, “During the informal sessions of the summit, we can facilitate a meeting between the two leaders. The two countries can sit together and peacefully resolve issues. A conflicting situation is not desirable… Look, the two countries got their Independence around the same time, they were partitioned… the important thing is they should sit together and talk peacefully.”

The Nepalese minister’s comments assume significance in the wake of reluctance of New Delhi and Islamabad to ask for a meeting between the two Prime Ministers. If the meeting takes place, it would be their second meeting since Modi took charge as PM — as Sharif had attended the swearing-in ceremony in May this year. “Peace”, Pandey said, “is needed for the prosperity of the region” and “counter-terrorism” was one of the topics on the agenda, which would be discussed during the summit.

“Maintaining peace and harmony in the region by controlling terrorist activities,” he said. According to officials, the SAARC nations are likely to sign three framework agreements in Kathmandu for establishing rail, road and electricity connectivity.

The three deals — Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic amongst SAARC Member States, SAARC Regional Agreement on Railways and SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity) — have been negotiated over the past three years.

Nepal foreign minister said that the theme for the Kathmandu Summit is “Deeper Integration for Peace, Progress and Prosperity”. The idea of the three deals came from the Declaration of the 16th Summit in Bhutan styled “2010-20, Decade of Intra-Regional Connectivity in SAARC”. When signed, the agreements would pave the way for building direct connectivity and providing better access to economic activities among the SAARC states and people of the region.

Source: Indian Express