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Modi to meet Sharif today; revival of dialogue on agenda
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
New Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif tomorrow amid hopes of revival of the stalled peace process between the two countries.

Ignoring vehement opposition from hardliners to his India visit, Sharif arrived here in the forenoon today accompanied by his wife Kulsoom, son Hussain and key aides. That promoting commerce and trade with India is high on his agenda became clear as Sharif met a few Indian businessmen, including Essel Group Chairman Subhash Chandra, soon after his arrival.

In the evening, he attended the swearing-in ceremony of Modi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan along with other SAARC leaders. Modi warmly shook hands with Sharif and other leaders after the ceremony. “I am carrying a message of peace...dialogue is the only solution,” Sharif said before emplaning for Delhi on his more than 24-hour visit.

The much-anticipated meeting between the two leaders is scheduled for 12.10 pm at the majestic Hyderabad House. Officials said it would be nearly a 30-minute meeting which would provide the two leaders an opportunity to get to know each other and exchange views on relations between the two nations.

The visiting leader, who is staying at Taj Mansingh Hotel, is scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukhrjee also before returning home in the afternoon. He has also expressed desire to call on former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The two sides avoided raising great expectations from the visit. “We are not expecting a breakthrough but it is an occasion for the two leaders to establish a personal equation which obviously can go a long way in reducing tension,” sources said.

Pakistan has not raised any contentious issue before the visit. It is expected that Sharif would extend a formal invitation to Modi to visit Pakistan.

Indo-Pak ties vital for regional peace: China

Beijing: Lauding the new Indian Government’s move to invite Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, China today said improvement in Indo-Pak ties contributes to regional peace, stability and development.

n "We have noted the latest development and we welcome that. Both India and Pakistan are major countries in South Asia. The improvement in their relationship not only serves the interests of the two countries but also contributes to regional peace, stability and development," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.






SAARC bonhomie visible at ceremony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif and other SAARC leaders were the most important guests at the swearing-in ceremony of the Narendra Modi government at the Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

Most of the leaders reached Delhi in the forenoon accompanied by their respective delegations. Sharif was the first to arrive for the oath-taking ceremony. He was accompanied by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit.

Other SAARC leaders, who attended the ceremony, were Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan PM Tshering Tobgay, Nepal PM Sushil Koirala and Bangladesh Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury. Mauritius PM Navin Ramgoolam was also present. As Modi took the oaths of office and secrecy, the visiting leaders clapped. After the swearing-in ceremony, President Pranab Mukherjee and Modi shook hands with each foreign leader and exchanged pleasantries. They also posed for a group photograph.

Later, the leaders attended a banquet hosted in their honour by the President.

Modi is scheduled to hold talks with all foreign leaders tomorrow. Apart from his talks with Sharif, his meeting with the Sri Lankan leader is also being considered significant in diplomatic circles.

Rajapaksa hoped relations between the two countries would be consolidated under Modi’s leadership.





Celebrations in US

Washington, May 26
The Indian-American community today greeted the elevation of Narendra Modi as PM with a series of celebrations and hoped that it would usher in a new era in India’s development.

Celebrations took place in Silicon Valley, New York, New Jersey, Houston, Los Angeles and Tampa, during which Modi’s supporters exuded confidence that India under his leadership would achieve new heights in development and would address issues of Indian-Americans.

“I have witnessed the development and forward-thinking ideas. If Modi can accomplish even 1/10 of what he has promised, he would have achieved more than what Congress has in 60 years,” said Gaurang Desai from the Friends of India Society International.

Chandrakant Patel, president of the Overseas Friends of BJP, who spent several weeks in India campaigning for BJP candidates, said: “May 26 would usher in a new era in India’s history. — PTI





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