Nepal played key role in Modi-Sharif handshake
Kathmandu: Nepal played a key role in creating an environment for a warm handshake between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif here today.
“Although we have created an atmosphere for meeting of the two leaders, it is the two leaders themselves who took initiative for the handshake,” Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, who was also present on the occasion, said. “SAARC is for creating a goodwill and understanding among all the member countries and the regional grouping could not move forward without the cooperation among them,” Pandey told PTI.
“We could not have forced them to shake hands,” said the Foreign Minister, adding that the brief meeting between Modi and Sharif could not have taken place if the two leaders were not willing to do so.
Host country Nepal organised a retreat for the SAARC leaders in Dhulikhel, the picturesque resort city situated in the east of Kathmandu on the final day of the Summit. The retreat organised by Nepal created an environment for the leaders of the two countries to come together.
On a question about whether he played any role for the handshake Prime Minister Koirala said, “SAARC will move forward in the path of democracy and development, and it will create an atmosphere of understanding and trust among all the member states.”
“It is not important who initiated, rather what happened matters,” said Koirala, adding the gesture was “significant”. Modi and Sharif had ignored each other yesterday during the opening session of the eight-nation SAARC Summit.
Lack of warmth between the two Prime Ministers at the SAARC is reflective of the sudden downslide in Indo-Pak ties after India called off Foreign Secretary-level talks over Pakistan envoy's meeting with Kashmiri separatists in August ahead of the parleys between the top diplomats.