New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday spoke about how the SAARC grouping should be used to “improve regional cooperation and connectivity”, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said.
“In each of his meetings (with the SAARC leaders), he (Modi) talked about the idea of SAARC and how we should use SAARC to improve regional cooperation and connectivity.”
“Each country in SAARC has its own specific strength and opportunities and he said that we should learn from each other’s best practices,” Sujatha Singh told the media.
“The other leaders responded very warmly to this suggestion and agreed with him wholeheartedly that this was something that was indeed worth pursuing.”
“So, there is a vision of SAARC working closely together and focusing on larger issues of regional importance,” she said.
The foreign secretary said the invitation to the SAARC leaders for Modi’s swearing-in ceremony had “never been done before” and was a new starting point.
“The prime minister thanked each of them for their graciousness in attending the ceremony of oath taking and noted that this was a celebration of democracy in the region, enriched by their presence,” Sujatha Singh said.
“This is a new beginning which many of them remarked was the first time that an occasion like this has bought the SAARC countries together,” she added.
Sujatha Singh said all the leaders invited Modi to visit their countries and that the prime minister accepted their invitations.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Maldives President Abdullah Yameen, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, along with Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam and Bangladesh Parliament speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury attended Modi’s oath-taking ceremony Monday.