KATHMANDU: Though Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have been under one roof at SAARC Summit and in the same hotel, Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz dismissed chances of any structured meeting between the two leaders.
Briefing newsmen, accompanying the Prime Minister to participate in the 18th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Conference, Aziz said the two leaders would again be in one room Thursday.
He however categorically dismissed chances of any formal meeting.
Both the leaders are staying at Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel and were at the same venue during the opening of the 18th Summit.
They will be again together at the Megha Malhar Banquet Hall during the Cultural event and banquet by the Nepalese Prime Minister but with no chances of some serious talk, said a senior diplomat.
The SAARC leaders will also be meeting informally on Thursday at the retreat planned at Dhulikhel 30 kilometres from Kathmandu.
Sartaj Aziz in his briefing again mentioned the unilateral cancellation of the foreign secretary level talks that was agreed upon by Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi in New Delhi following the latter’s swearing in.
Despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s goodwill gesture of participating in the swearing in ceremony of his counterpart Narendra Modi with a pledge to start the stalled dialogue process India not only cancelled the talks but also launched unprovoked firing on civilian population along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary causing loss of precious lives.
Sartaj Aziz regretted that the momentum initiated during the Prime
Minister’s visit to New Delhi was not maintained by India.
He said the 18th SAARC Summit had made some headway in important areas as there was general consensus on the importance of food security setting up a seed bank for distribution among the member states besides establishing a reserve food bank to meet any shortages.
He said following the South Asia Free Trade Agreement trade between the members was on the rise and the number of items on the negative list had declined.
He said the member states had unanimity of views to move forward and agreed upon setting up joint Climate Change and Disaster Management setup. The location and other modalities in this regard he added were being finalized.
Aziz said there was a stress on the importance of connectivity and progress had been made on multilateral agreements on Road Transport Railways and Energy Cooperation.
There was no hurdle in the signing of an agreement on energy as it would enable countries to purchase and sell the commodity across the border.
He said Pakistan would be hosting the 19th Summit at Islamabad. He, however, did not give any dates and said the decision would be taken at the meeting of the Council of Ministers.
According to SAARC Charter the Summit can be held every two years or earlier.