Close ties with neighbours top priority: Modi

RSTV Bureau

modi_pmAhead of his Nepal visit to attend the SAARC Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said development of close relations with neighbours was a key priority for his government as he looks forward to hold talks with other South Asian Heads of State and Government on the margins of the Summit.

While Modi’s official programme has no mention of his meeting with Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, he would be meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa
among others.

Modi, who will attend the 18th SAARC Summit on 26-27 November, said he also hopes to conclude some concrete agreements in the areas of connectivity and development cooperation.

“Although this is my first SAARC Summit, during the last six months, I have interacted extensively with leaders of SAARC countries beginning with their auspicious presence at my swearing-in ceremony. Development of close relations with our neighbours is a key priority for my Government,” Modi said in his departure statement.

Noting that the Summit’s theme was “Deeper Regional Integration for Peace and Prosperity”, he said India has always emphasised on the importance of greater regional integration at all levels for the socio-economic development of the South Asian region.

“We have undertaken several initiatives in this regard on bilateral, sub-regional and regional basis, and will continue to do more. We hope that the Summit will lead to concrete outcomes, particularly in regard to various initiatives on enhancing connectivity that have been under discussion for a long time,” he said.

The Prime Minister said he was also looking forward to holding bilateral discussions with other South Asian Heads of State and Government on the margins of the SAARC Summit.

“This will be my second visit to Nepal within four months, which reflects the importance we attach to our unique and special relations with Nepal. There has been significant progress in the implementation of the decisions taken during my visit to Nepal in August 2014. I look forward to reviewing the progress in our relations with Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and other Nepalese leaders,” he added.