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Modi, Sharif shake hands, meet at Saarc retreat

Modi, Sharif shake hands, meet at Saarc retreat

Kathmandu: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif shook hands and met briefly during the retreat at the Saarc Summit Thursday, a day after Modi conspicuously avoided Sharif while he met five other South Asian leaders here.

"Yes, they have met and shook hands at the retreat," Nepal Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey told IANS over phone from Dhulikhel, where the retreat is being held on the second day of the two-day Saarc Summit.

Both the prime ministers have taken a tour in and around the resort which is famous for watching Himalayas.

Leaders will spend almost five hours at the retreat.

Nepal, the host country, is pushing for talks between India and Pakistan and at least a Saarc related energy accord.

But a planned meeting between two South Asian leaders has not taken place.

As of now, both leaders have not met separately at the retreat, but Nepal and other Saarc members are pushing them to sit for talks.

Multiple diplomatic sources told IANS that both the prime ministers were seen talking during a reception hosted by Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala Wednesday evening in honour of visiting Saarc heads of state and government.

Both the prime ministers also spoke to each other in a waiting room.

Both Modi and Sharif were in the same row at dinner and were chatting with each other, said a diplomat, adding that it was very personal and not substantive.

Both Modi and Sharif also briefly shook hands after the inaugural session of the summit as well as in the holding room adjacent to the Saarc summit hall.

Pakistan Wednesday played spoilsport by blocking three major Saarc connectivity projects initiated by India.

While Modi, who gave a forceful maiden speech at the summit on the need for seamless connectivity, met his Bangladeshi and Bhutanese counterparts Sheikh Hasina and Tshering Tobgay, and later the presidents of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives - Ashraf Ghani, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Abdulla Yameen - Sharif was not on the list.

India's external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin Wednesday said there was "no structured meeting" planned between the two leaders as India has not received any request for such a meet from Pakistan.

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