Signalling a thaw after the standoff over the Foreign Secretary-level talks in August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Dhulikhel retreat — about 30 kilometres away from Kathmandu — on Tuesday.
It is reliably learnt that the two leaders are likely to meet sometime later in the day, hours after Modi arrives on Tuesday.
This will be their first meeting since May, when Sharif attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi. The relationship had soured after India cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level talks over the Pakistan High Commissioner’s meeting with Hurriyat leaders.
— Shubhajit Roy (@ShubhajitRoy) November 25, 2014
When asked about the possibility of a meeting between Modi and Sharif on the margins of the SAARC Summit, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who arrived here on Monday evening, said with a smile, “Wait till tomorrow”.
The retreat is expected to generate an informal setting for meetings between leaders. Earlier, Nepal Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said SAARC leaders could “facilitate” a meeting between the Indian and Pakistan PMs during the retreat sessions.
Replying to a question on bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz, said, “Well, I think one or two are fixed. The rest are not yet fixed.”
On the possibility of a Modi-Sharif meeting, he said, “No plans yet.” When pressed further, Aziz said, “If the initiative (for the meeting) comes from the other side.”
Asked about a meeting with Swaraj, Aziz said, “Well if she requests, I will.” Replying to a question on whether the summit would be overshadowed by the India-Pak relationship, Aziz said, “I hope not. The SAARC is more important.”
Meanwhile, Modi is likely to flag off the Kathmandu-Delhi bus service, gift a chopper to the Nepal Army, inaugurate a trauma centre built with Indian aid, and witness the signing of a power agreement for a 900 MW project.