India has not ruled out a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Saarc summit, saying Mr Modi is keen to have talks with as many South Asian leaders as possible. The two-day summit will begin in Kathmandu on Nov 26.
Talking to reporters here on Sunday, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said India wanted “cooperative and peaceful ties” with Pakistan. Mr Modi was keen “to have meaningful dialogue with as many South Asian colleagues as possible,” Mr Akbaruddin said. “This would mean taking into account all aspects of the relationships,” he added. He said the schedule of the bilateral meetings was being finalised, “and it is a work in progress”.
“Our intent is to have meaningful dialogues,” he said. Meanwhile in Islamabad, the Foreign Office issued a statement, confirming that Prime Minister Sharif would attend the two-day Saarc summit in Kathmandu. The statement added that Mr Sharif would be meeting leaders of South Asian countries on the sidelines of the summit. However, it did not name the leaders with whom Mr Sharif would be holding talks. The FO statement said Pakistan attached great importance to Saarc and was committed to its processes and goals.
It said the foreign secretary was in Kathmandu to represent Pakistan at a meeting of the Saarc standing committee. This meeting will be followed by a meeting of the Saarc council of ministers, which would be attended by Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs.