Speculations cloud Modi-Sharif meeting

Islamabad: The meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Summit has drawn both attention and speculation. Some are viewing it as a ‘chance meeting’ while others expect the conversation to ease existing tense bilateral atmospherics.

According to the Dawn, a Pakistan delegation official clarified that the Modi-Sharif meeting was more of an ice-breaker than anything else.

According to him, Prime Minister Sharif expressed his concerns about terrorist activities in Pakistan to the Indian Prime Minister and said that ‘we need to talk about it’.

The meeting took place when Prime Minister Modi went to the lounge for visiting leaders and found Sharif sitting there.

Noticing Sharif, Modi walked up to him and both warmly shook hands and sat next to each other and chatted briefly. No official delegates were present during the meeting.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, was quoted by the Indian media, as saying that there was only ‘exchange of courtesies’.

According to TV channel reports, Prime Minister Sharif called the talks ‘good’. And expressed his aspiration of the doors of dialogue between the two nations must open.

According to Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, the head of LEAD-Pakistan, the meeting did not necessarily mean a breakthrough and was a mere formality.

A Pakistani official, who was present, said the Indian Prime Minister looked keen on talking with Sharif which may lead to the creation of a better atmosphere for an Indo-Pak dialogue.

The two leaders last met on July 10 on the sidelines of SCO Summit in the Russian city of Ufa during which they had agreed on the need for a meeting between their national security advisers for discussing terrorism-related threats. But the meeting could not take place because of agenda-linked differences.

Sharif and Modi were together in New York during the UN General Assembly session in September, but only waved at each other and exchanged smiles.

Ties between the two countries have remained largely tense since Prime Minister Modi came to power in May 2014. (ANI)