Most SAARC leaders coming, Modi’s first bilateral meetings day after swearing-in

MAY 26: Nawaz may decide on invite today; moves afoot to invite Khaleda and Ranil too

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: May 23, 2014 8:43 am

Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi will have his first set of bilateral meetings with visiting foreign leaders on May 27, the day after his swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan, sources have told The Indian Express.
This will be his first diplomatic interaction with leaders from the neighbourhood.

The meetings are likely to last about 30 minutes each, during which the new Prime Minister will get the chance to have a “conversation” and “develop a chemistry” with the leaders of the SAARC countries, the sources said.

They said Modi will also host a banquet for the visiting leaders after the swearing-in ceremony on May 26. The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, confirmed on Thursday that Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom will attend the ceremony.

Until late on Thursday night, there was no confirmation on whether Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be here. A PTI report from Islamabad, quoting unnamed sources in the Pakistan foreign office, said a decision was likely to be made on Friday.

As reported by The Indian Express on Thursday, Bangladesh will be represented by Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be away on a pre-scheduled visit to Japan on May 26.

Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius too will be in Delhi, following the invitation extended to him by Modi during their conversation over the phone. Mauritius is home to a robust Indian diaspora, and is, because of its tax laws, the source of the largest quantum of FDI coming into India.

Ambassadors and high commissioners resident in Delhi will be invited for the ceremony, sources said. Sources in the BJP said attempts were also under way to have some major opposition figures from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Delhi for Monday’s ceremony. Leaders from the party were learnt to be in touch with Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, and Ranil Wickremasinghe, leader of the Sri Lankan opposition.

PTI quoted an unnamed senior leader from Sharif’s PML-N as saying the prime minister wanted to normalise ties with India to promote commercial and business activities, but Modi’s invite had come at short notice, and a decision would be made in consultation with civil and military leaders.

“He is keen to improve ties which is also the official policy of the party, but he needs to take various aspects of the relations into consideration,” the leader told PTI.

Sherry Rehman, a former Pakistan minister and Islamabad’s former ambassador to Washington, tweeted, “It won’t change the game, not yet, but PM Sharif may start an imp(ortant) journey for India and Pakistan by accepting Modi’s invite for oath-taking.”

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First Published on: May 22, 2014 1:49 am
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    anandram Venkatasubramanian
    May 23, 2014 at 1:47 am
    no buddy. One needs to size up your neighbour. Nothing does that than a face to face meeting. Morever this sends the message that you are serious about your business. Further on global standing this sends the message that the new administration has extended the olive branch. Now those who want to fall back can do so at their own risk.
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      Ritesh Gandhi
      May 23, 2014 at 5:43 am
      waiting for Best decision till .....towords..... nil national loans.
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      1. S
        SRIDHAR
        May 22, 2014 at 6:44 pm
        DO NOT INVITE RAAKSA....
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          SRIDHAR
          May 22, 2014 at 6:39 pm
          Raaksa has killed more than 1 lakh hindu tamil poeples and he has destro more than 100 hindu mandir in srilanka.....Dear friends pls understand...tamilnadu is a part of hindustan,we are also indians..DO NOT INVITE RAAKSA......if u allow him it is a historical mistake......JAIHIND
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            Shrinath
            May 23, 2014 at 4:41 am
            It is excellent idea, and Modi has pla very nicely. Our handling of foreign affairs is very bad during UPA regime. Even governments like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal do not respect us. India, being big economical power, we need to play big role in our territory and not allow others to enter.
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              ganesh
              May 22, 2014 at 8:37 pm
              What sort of ramifications are you expecting when no bilateral talks are going to be held with any of the nations other than showing our intent to engage with them??
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                Jagdish Jain
                May 21, 2014 at 11:37 pm
                I think India's neighbors understand Modi well. Some of them will come, and some will not. If If I were Modi's adviser, I would recommend "keep your coronation within the limits of India, and don't invite foreign leaders." Modi is very naive about the foreign policy of India.
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                  Michael Brown
                  May 22, 2014 at 7:42 am
                  Michael Brown Kelowna B.C Canada.Hon: Prime minister Modi, Congratulations on your decision to invite all the neighboring Heads of State. You are already on the right track to improve India's stand in the world.
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                  1. k
                    kermit979
                    May 23, 2014 at 2:07 am
                    @jagdishjain:disqus...What are your foreign policy credentials? He will be the PM of India, he is the leader of this nation let him decide and carry out the things which he thinks best for the country. If people won't like it then they will let him know. Have some patience, relax.
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                      kermit979
                      May 23, 2014 at 2:10 am
                      Best decision by Modiji, you are doing the right thing, inviting them and getting to know them what kind people these are. It is always go to know your neighbours good or bad, so that you can take care of your house properly.
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                        kvl
                        May 22, 2014 at 9:00 am
                        Already Tamilnadu members started their dissent for inviting Srilanka. they want to dominate the centre with their local demands. Modi should not obey as MM.
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                          Melong
                          May 22, 2014 at 8:30 pm
                          The golden rule is "keep your friends close and enemies even closer."
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                            Peter Peter
                            May 22, 2014 at 5:53 pm
                            It is international statesmanship at work. World's largest democracy coronation ceremony is important to the world - or it SHOULD be.Stop thinking local, think GLOBAL, at least learn from Modi - you have NOTHING to teach him.
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                              Vineeta Jay
                              May 22, 2014 at 4:44 am
                              Go Modi !! A great decision.
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                                ravi
                                May 23, 2014 at 2:02 am
                                @KVL Shanta I agree with you. Though I am Tamilian, I dont agree with blind boycott call. There is no way of getting rights for Sri Lankan Tamils just by boycotting their leaders. We have to speak with them and convince them to reconcile with their minority by empowering them.
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                                  Raja Lankan
                                  May 22, 2014 at 3:54 am
                                  I agree with Jagdish Jain. Modi is naive. Its first important to study the foreign policy ramifications before jumping to issue invitations before he even umes office.
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                                    Rajesh_Pune
                                    May 22, 2014 at 3:15 am
                                    When one moves into a new house, it is civil to invite and familiarise with your neighbours. Modi is doing exactly that, welcome his initiative! SAARC can give the world a healthy compeion, and India can play a lead role in it.
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                                      Sat
                                      May 23, 2014 at 2:51 am
                                      I totally disagree with you ..there are tensions between us & others (neighbor )if @ all you need solution to problem it can be addressed effectively & efficiently ....no development /progress ...still we are in havoc First step is to respect them shows our culture ,then they will respect us as India ding need them but they need our stature..... Govt ,governance is the key strategic move Whoever comes ,whoever doesnot corm is not an issue only strengthening ties & get it into action as HEADS OF STATE WILL RESPOND .......MOONE THOUGHT MODI WILL BE PM WITH SUCH MAJORITY .I AM SURE EVERYONE WILL COOPERATE & have friendly relation with our country for future prospects $
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                                        smartroadster
                                        May 23, 2014 at 2:39 am
                                        I presume you, sir, to be having quite some experience in foreign policy. It would be better to give some reason why he shouldn't have done that rather than just saying he shouldn't have.
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                                          Subodh
                                          May 23, 2014 at 5:29 am
                                          "Arrange your house and neighbors first then take the world by horn". Best ever decision by designated Indian Prime Minister. Throughout the world the message will go that India is a responsible power, considerate toward its neighbors". stan will also realise that Modi under India will be completely different proposition, and Pak army and ISI will have to think twice before they start anything fishy now because they can expect being reply from India.
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                                            Sunny Varghese
                                            May 22, 2014 at 6:57 am
                                            excellent decision. way to showcase India to the world
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