Modi, Nawaz shake hands


Breaking the two-day ice, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shook hands with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif as the two leaders met briefly during an informal retreat on Thursday, the concluding day of the two-day South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit.

"Yes, they have met and shook hands at the retreat," Nepal Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey told IANS over phone from Dhulikhel near Kathmandu, where the retreat is being held. But a planned meeting between two South Asian leaders has not taken place.

Both the prime ministers along with other SAARC leaders took a tour in and around the resort which is famous for watching the Himalayas. Modi flew in an Indian Air Force chopper to Dhulikhel while the heads of state and government of other member countries were flown by Nepal Army helicopters.

The otherwise traditional retreat during any SAARC summit is significant this year with reports of host Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala making a last-ditch effort to rescue the two-day talks, which is threatened to be a flop after Pakistan refused to agree to key agreements proposed by India and other nations.

Before the 18th SAARC summit began in Nepal, three agreements were prepared - two on improving road and railway networks in the region and one on making the electricity-starved region to trade in electricity. The future of the agreements is uncertain after Pakistan objected to them.

In its 30-year history, the SAARC has delivered almost negligible results as far as economic ties and development among the eight members - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - is concerned. Despite a free trade agreement signed in 2006, the right nations conduct barely 5 per cent of their total trade with each other.

Source : India Today