ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Kathmandu Tuesday where he will attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit commencing tomorrow (Wednesday).
Leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will meet as a group and also hold bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the 18th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
Apart from attending the summit in the Nepalese capital, PM Nawaz is also expected to meet other South Asian leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
"We want peace and stability in the region. We want to make Saarc a strong trading and economic block like the European Union. This is a region which will prosper through better security and economic cooperation," said the premier in a pre-departure statement.
Although there is no scheduled meeting between Nawaz and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, both may shake hands in the opening of the summit and at a reception hosted by the Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
“I look forward to holding bilateral discussions with other South Asian heads of state and government on the margins of the Saarc summit,” Modi said in a statement Tuesday.
Sri Lankan President President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President President Ashraf Ghani, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Maldives President Abdulla Yameen had already arrived in Katmandu by midday Tuesday.
Security was stepped around the Nepalese capital. The route between the airport and the conference hotel was blocked by security personnel all day. Commercial flights at the nation's only international airport were also stopped for most part of Tuesday.