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Modi meets four South Asian leaders, not Nawaz Sharif
Wednesday November 26, 2014 6:42 PM, Anil Giri, IANS

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with leaders of four South Asian nations on the sidelines of 18th Saarc Summit here Wednesday, but the conspicuous absence from the meeting list was Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Modi with Hasina
[Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, at the 18th SAARC Summit, in Kathmandu, Nepal on November 26, 2014. ]

He held talks with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgey and Afghani President Ashraf Ghani.

There was no meeting planned between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Shraif as of Wednesday. But speculations are rife in Kathmandu that both the leaders will meet during the retreat in a nearby hill station, Dhulikhel, Thursday morning.

"We have not received any request from Pakistan," Syed Akbaruddin, India's external affairs ministry spokesperson, said.

In his meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Modi thanked him for pardoning and sending back five Indian fishermen earlier this month, according to Akbaruddin.

Rajapaksa also welcomed the initiative taken by India for develop and launch satellite dedicated to Saarc.

In his meeting with Ghani, Modi committed to strengthening relations with Afghanistan.

Regarding the meeting with Hasina, Akbaruddin said: "India, Bangladesh prime ministers see grater prospects of cooperation amongst democracies of South Asia."

After meeting with Modi, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tobgey said that he held his first bilateral meeting with the Indian leader.

"A lot to discuss, especially how to take Saarc forward after his powerful speech today," Tobgey said

During the meeting, Modi had appreciated Bhutan National Reading Year 2015 and committed to send experts who organized 'Gujurat is Reading' to the Himalayan nation.

Modi also invited the Bhutanese leader to visit Gujarat.

During Thursday's retreat, the leaders will spend over two hours in informal talks. Modi also held talks with Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala who was elected as Saarc chair Wednesday.

Other regional leaders are also meeting each other on the sidelines of the summit.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail.com)




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