South Asian foreign ministers meet in Nepal

Nepalese Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam, left, welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, as he arrives at the Tribhuwan Airport to attend the 18th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Katmandu, Nepal, on Tuesday.

Nepalese Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam, left, welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, as he arrives at the Tribhuwan Airport to attend the 18th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Katmandu, Nepal, on Tuesday.

KATMANDU: Foreign Ministers from eight South Asian nations met Tuesday in the Nepalese capital to prepare for a summit of regional leaders, including from rivals India and Pakistan.

The meeting in Katmandu will finalize agreements and plan the agenda for the leaders’ gathering on Wednesday and Thursday.

Leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will meet as a group and also hold bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the 18th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

A meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif may also happen, although no official announcements have been made.

“I also look forward to holding bilateral discussions with other South Asian heads of state and government on the margins of the SAARC Summit,” Modi said in a statement Tuesday.

Sri Lankan President President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President President Ashraf Ghani, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Maldives President Abdulla Yameen had already arrived in Katmandu by midday Tuesday while Modi, Sharif and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were scheduled to arrive later Tuesday.

Security was stepped around the Nepalese capital. The route between the airport and the conference hotel was blocked by security personnel all day. Commercial flights at the nation’s only international airport were also stopped for most part of Tuesday.

 
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