Indian leader Modi meets rival nations

Last updated 22:59 27/05/2014
Reuters

India's new prime minister meets his Pakistani counterpart on first full day in office. Katie Sargent reports

 India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Reuters
NEW JOB: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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New Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the leaders of rival Pakistan and other neighbouring nations on Tuesday, a day after being sworn in. 

Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif smiled warmly as they posed for photographs ahead of their nearly hour-long meeting. 

No details were immediately released about their discussion. Modi was expected to ask Pakistan to hasten its investigation into the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai, India’s financial hub, in which Pakistani militants killed 166 people, and put its perpetrators on trial. 

He was also likely to urge Pakistan to take action against Islamic militant groups operating out of Pakistani territory to prevent further attacks on India. The future of Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan territory over which they have fought two of their three wars, was another likely topic. 

Analysts say Sharif’s visit to attend Modi’s inauguration could signal an easing of tensions between the often-hostile, nuclear-armed neighbours.  

Modi also held brief meetings with the leaders of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Mauritius and Maldives, who also attended his inauguration Monday. He was to meet with the speaker of Bangladesh’s Parliament later Tuesday. 

On Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told an Indian television channel that the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind last Friday’s attack on an Indian consulate in western Afghanistan. Gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the building in Herat, but the diplomatic staff escaped unharmed. 

Karzai said he received the information from ‘‘a western intelligence agency.’’    

Lashkar-e-Taiba was also blamed for the Mumbai attack. 

On Tuesday, a man who identified himself as a Lashkar-e-Taiba spokesman named Abdullah Ghaznavi denied that the group was responsible for the consulate attack. 

‘‘We have nothing to do with any attack in Afghanistan,’’ he told The Associated Press. 

Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a solid majority in the 543-member lower house of Parliament, enabling him to set priorities without being constrained by coalition partners. 

Modi has picked 45 Cabinet ministers, who were sworn in alongside him. Former BJP President Rajnath Singh was named home minister, former opposition leader Sushma Swaraj is the new foreign minister, and BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley will head the ministries of finance and defence.


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