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Modi’s invite to SAARC leaders evokes warm response, Sharif yet to decide
New Delhi, May 22 (IANS): Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s initiative to invite leaders of all SAARC countries for his swearing-in ceremony has evoked a warm response with the Afghan, Maldivian and Sri Lankan presidents and the Bhutanese and Nepalese prime ministers confirming their participation. Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif was yet to take a decision about participating.
Bangladesh will be represented at the ceremony by its parliament speaker.
Apart from leaders from SAARC countries, Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam will also attend the swearing-in.
External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in a series of tweets that India had received confirmation about participation of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom at Modi’s swearing-in May 26.
“India receives confirmation of participation from Sri Lanka @PresRajapaksa to attend @narendramodi swearing in ceremony on 26 May,” he posted.
He made similar tweets about confirmation about participation from Maldives and Afghanistan.
Akbaruddin said India had also received confirmation that Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala will attend, while Bangladesh has informed that Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury will attend.
The Pakistan Foreign Office said Prime Minister Sharif will decide Thursday whether or not to attend Modi’s oath-taking ceremony and noted that it expects a “meaningful dialogue” with India after Modi assumes charge.
Akbaruddin said Mauritius’s Ramgoolam had been invited to the swearing-in and had confirmed his participation.
Modi, who had surprised the world with his election victory, invited heads of government of all the SAARC countries for his oath-taking ceremony in a major diplomatic signal to the region as well as to the global community.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh wrote to her SAARC counterparts Wednesday inviting their leaders to the swearing in on Monday.
SAARC comprises, besides India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.
Akbaruddin had said Wednesday it was the first time that India has invited all SAARC members to attend a swearing-in ceremony of the prime minister.
Modi will take oath as India’s 14th prime minister at the ceremony that is expected to be attended by over 3,000 invited guests and will be telecast live. The swearing-in ceremony would be held in the open forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace here.