Modi, Sharif exchange pleasantries during SAARC retreat

KATHMANDU :  Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif today exchanged “pleasantries” during an informal retreat of SAARC leaders in Dhulikhel, a day after they ignored each other while sharing the dais at the summit.
“The two leaders exchanged pleasantries when they met for the first time after arriving here,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told.
The leaders gathered at Dhulikhel in Kavre district, 30 km east of the Nepalese capital, for the traditional SAARC retreat on the concluding day of the two-day summit.
At the retreat, they held private, unofficial talks in a relaxed and more informal atmosphere.
Sources said all the leaders met in informal settings and talked about various regional issues.
There was no discussion on bilateral issues, they said.
The SAARC Foreign Ministers, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz, were also present at the retreat.
SAARC retreats are ideally organised outside the summit venue in resorts and hotels where the leaders can relax and discuss the bilateral and multilateral agendas.
It also provides an opportunity to quell disagreements on unresolved issues.
Yesterday, at the 18th SAARC Summit, Modi and Sharif did not interact at all even though they were together at the dais for the opening ceremony which lasted for nearly three hours.
Prime Minister Modi yesterday held bilateral talks with all heads of government and state attending the 18th SAARC Summit here with Sharif the only conspicuous exemption.
India and Pakistan have been involved in a war of words after New Delhi cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level meeting in August after Pakistan’s envoy in India met Kashmiri separatists ahead of the talks. (AGENCIES)


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