Pak PM Abbasi meets Oli on 2-day Nepal visit to revive stalled SAARC meet

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, front, walks with Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli as he inspects a joint military guard of honour in Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo: AP/PTI)
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi today met his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli here and discussed bilateral ties besides ways to revive the SAARC process.

During the meeting, Abbasi said he was positive to take forward the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) process.

According to sources, the two leaders talked about reviving the stalled SAARC process.

The 19th SAARC Summit, which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November 2016, was cancelled after India announced to boycott the meeting citing Pakistan's involvement in the Uri terror attack. Three other SAARC members joined India, resulting in the cancellation of the summit.

"Prime Minister's visit will provide an opportunity to further expand and strengthen bilateral relations across all areas of mutual interest including trade, education, tourism, defence and people to people contacts. Ways of invigorating SAARC as an important regional organization will also be discussed," Pakistan's Foreign Office said earlier.

Abbasi also congratulated Prime Minister Oli for being appointed to the top executive post of the country and extended an invitation to him to visit Pakistan, sources said.

Oli hosted a dinner in honour of Abbasi.

Abbasi, who is in Nepal on a two-day visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Oli, was received by Finance Minister Dr Yuvaraj Khatiwada at the Tribhuwan International Airport.

He was accorded the guard of honour at Army Pavilion at Tundikhel Ground in presence of Prime Minister Oli.

Abbasi is the first high level foreign leader to visit Nepal after Premier Oli assumed office last month.

He will also call on President Bidyadevi Bhandari at Rastrapati Bhawan, Sheetal Niwas, Kathmandu tomorrow and will meet other high officials of Nepal.

This was the first official bilateral visit by any Pakistan Prime Minister to Nepal after a gap of 24 years.

In 1994, the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto travelled to Nepal on a bilateral visit.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif had visited Nepal to attend the 18th SAARC Summit in 2014.

Abbasi's visit will provide an opportunity to further expand and strengthen bilateral relations across all areas of mutual interest including trade, education, tourism, defence and people to people contacts, Pakistan's Foreign Office said.

The visit is a part of Pakistan's "pro-active and outreach efforts" to engage with regional countries, it said yesterday.

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