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Modi, Sharif exchange pleasantries during SAARC retreat

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modi-sharif-lFrom Priyanka Tikoo and Manash Pratim Bhuyan

Kathmandu, Nov 27 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif today “exchanged pleasantries” during an informal retreat of SAARC leaders in Dhulikhel on the concluding day of the two-day summit.

“The two leaders exchanged pleasantries when they met for the first time after arriving here,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told PTI.

The leaders gathered at Dhulikhel in Kavre district, 20 km east from the Nepalese capital, for the traditional SAARC retreat where they held private, unofficial bilateral and multilateral talks in a relaxed and more informal atmosphere.

Sources said all the leaders met in informal settings and talked about various regional issues. There was no discussion on bilateral issues, they said.

The SAARC Foreign Ministers also had an interaction in informal settings.

SAARC retreats are ideally organised outside the summit venue in resorts and hotels where the leaders can relax and discuss the bilateral and multilateral agendas.

It also provides an opportunity to quell disagreements on unresolved issues.

Yesterday, at the 18th SAARC Summit, Modi and Sharif did not interact at all even though they were together at the dais for the ceremony which lasted for nearly three hours.

Prime Minister Modi yesterday held bilateral talks with all Heads of Government and State attending the 18th SAARC Summit here with Sharif the only conspicuous exemption.

India and Pakistan have been involved in a war of words after New Delhi cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level meeting in August after Pakistan’s envoy in India met Kashmiri separatists ahead of the talks.

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