Mango diplomacy ahead of Modi-Sharif talks

RSTV Bureau

modi_sharifA meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month is unlikely to be on bilateral relations.

According to the sources, there was no proposal from either side to have such a meeting on the margins of the UNGA and as of now it was also unlikely that India would suggest such a parley.

Meanwhile, Sharif has sent a box of Pakistani mangoes to Modi, days after the two countries witnessed a war of words as India cancelled Foreign Secretary-level meeting last month after Pakistan went ahead with talks with the Kashmiri separatists despite India asking it to choose a “dialogue with India or talks with separatists”.

Asked if mango diplomacy would change the mood between the two countries, long-time Indo-Pak observers said sending mangoes by Pakistani leaders has been a very old tradition and were even sent by Sharif to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee after Kargil war in 1999.

While Prime Minister Modi will be in New York from September 26 to 29, Sharif is scheduled to be there from September 22 to 27. Though there is an overlapping of small period when both the leaders will be there, a meeting is unlikely given the frosty ties between the two countries.

Yesterday, Pakistan Foreign Ministry said it was not aware of any plans for a meeting between Modi and Sharif in New York. “As regards a meeting (Modi-Sharif) in New York, I am not aware of any such plan as yet,” Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam had said in Islamabad.

According to sources, Sharif has also sent mangoes to President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.