New Delhi: There are no plans for a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) during Mr Modi’s forthcoming visit to the United States.
The ministry of external affairs (MEA) made this clear on Tuesday, but added, in response to a question, that whether a “chance meeting” will take place or not is up to the media to speculate.
Nevertheless, Mr Modi will follow the “neighbours-first policy” and meet the Sri Lankan President and Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Nepal. He will visit the United States from September 26 to 30 where he will have as many as “35 engagements” in this short span.
After the UNGA, where he will address issues of importance to India, including the need for the expansion of the UN Security Council to include India, Mr Modi will travel to Washington, where he will meet President Barack Obama on September 29 and 30, apart from the vice-president, defence secretary and secretary of state. The Prime Minister will also attend a private dinner hosted by Mr Obama in his honour on September 29.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet former president Bill Clinton, there will be no meeting with former President George W. Bush, in whose tenure Mr Modi, then Gujarat chief minister was denied a US visa.
The MEA said Indo-US ties encompassed everything from “the atom to outer space” and that a larger gamut of issues would be discussed in bilateral meetings with the US, including trade, energy, science and technology, defence and maritime security. Officials expressed confidence that there will be “substantive outcomes” from the visit, adding that Mr Modi has moved beyond the visa issue and is “looking ahead”.
Mr Modi will also meet leaders of the Sikh community during his visit. He will meet top functionaries of prominent American companies at a breakfast meeting, including Google, PepsiCo, GE and Boeing. The PM will also address the Indian community on September 28 at the Madison Square Garden in New York and will also meet a “select group of 10 persons of Indian origin” on September 27 in New York.
A meeting with leaders of the Jewish community will also take place. He will also visit the 9/11 memorial. In response to a question on reports that Mr Modi will be fasting and on a Navratri diet, the MEA said India, as a guest, has already indicated his dietary preferences. The PM will also attend a dinner where both prominent Indian nationals residing in the US and PIOs will be present.
Mr Modi will also meet Nikki Haley, the Indian-origin governor of South Carolina, and two other US governors. During his visit to Washington, he will also visit the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King memorial and will also pay homage at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi there.
During bilateral talks, the US is likely to raise the nuclear liability issue with India while India is likely to raise the fact that Indian professionals in the US have to contribute to the social security system there without enjoying its benefits.
Meanwhile, on the possibility of any meeting with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, the MEA spokesperson said, “There are no plans for a meeting with the Pakistan PM.” Asked about the recent meetings Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit had in New Delhi recently with national security adviser Ajit Doval and foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, the spokesperson said these were “courtesy” meetings sought by the Pakistani envoy.