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Diplomacy marks Modi's first day as Prime Minister

PM Narendra Modi’s first day in office began on a hectic note as he was kept busy with back-to-back meetings with dignitaries from the SAARC nations, and other courtesies

New Delhi: A new Indian government took charge on Tuesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally assuming office. Modi drove from Gujarat Bhavan, where he is staying, to reach the Prime Minister’s Office in South Block close to 9 am.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves as he comes out of the PMO after taking over, in New Delhi. Pics/PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves as he comes out of the PMO after taking over, in New Delhi. Pics/PTI

Moving into his room, he first paid his respects before a photo of Mahatma Gandhi. His very first act was to announce ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 50,000 to the kin of those killed and to the seriously injured in a train accident in Uttar Pradesh on Monday.

The disaster in Sant Kabir Nagar district left at least 25 people and about 100 injured. He then headed to the stately Hyderabad House to meet leaders of SAARC countries who attended his swearing in the day before. He spoke about how the SAARC should be used to “improve regional cooperation and connectivity”, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said.

To Karzai: Assault only solidifies our resolve
During his first bilateral meeting with any international leader after assuming charge, Modi held talks with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai during which they discussed ways to enhance cooperation in key areas, in the wake of the recent attack on Indian consulate in Herat that the Afghan leader say was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai

Modi thanked Karzai for the assistance provided in repelling the attack on the consulate and said it had “only strengthened our resolve to work together with Afghanistan”. Modi reiterated India’s commitment to the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

To Sharif: Expedite trial of 26/11 accused
Modi raised issues of terror and the trial in Mumbai attack case in his first bilateral meeting with Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif. He raised the core concern of terror, and the issue of slow pace of trial in 26/11 terror case being held in Pakistan, calling for a speedy trial of Pakistanis accused of masterminding the Mumbai terror attack of 2008.

Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif
Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif

The two leaders then talked about ways to enhance cooperation in the field of trade. Sharif described his meeting as “good and constructive” and said his government stands ready to discuss all issues between the two countries, in a spirit of cooperation and sincerity. He also said he desired to take forward the peace process he had initiated with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

To Rajapaksa: Justice for Sri Lankan Tamils
Modi told Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that India valued her relation with Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

He expressed hope that Lanka would expedite the process of national reconciliation that involved justice and dignity for the Tamil population, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said. India and Sri Lanka pledged for “greater connectivity”, she added.

To Koirala: Hope Nepal enforces Constitution
Modi, in his meeting with Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, conveyed to Koirala that he hoped Nepal would implement its constitution in the one-year time frame it has stipulated for itself.

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala
Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala

Modi also met President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of the Maldives and Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan, besides Bangladesh parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Dr Manmohan Singh

PM meets his predecessor
As a courtesy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called on his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, at the latter’s 3, Motilal Nehru Marg residence in Lutyen’s Delhi. Modi presented Manmohan Singh with a bouquet as he was greeted by him and his wife, Gursharan Kaur.

Expectations from the diaspora
>> Balesh Dhankhar, president of Overseas Friends of BJP, Australia, says, “Many Indians including me have started the process of returning to India to contribute to her progress.”

>> Indian-origin Kenyan banker Hiten Vaya said, “I don’t want him to get sidetracked by jingoism or do anything under Hindu nationalists’ pressure. Modi is known as pro-development and pro-business. Let that be his strong point and legacy.”

>> “I am sceptical of how his policies will translate to long-term growth of India, not just in big cities,” said California-based Nandita Verma, marketing director of a software company.

>> Pakistani journalist Muhammad Notezai, who has worked on the welfare of Hindus in Balochistan said, “Hindus in Pakistan fear that Hindu-Muslim tension will create problems as it did in the 1990s. And hence BJP must learn a lesson from the past.”

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