Pak, India rubbish Nawaz-Modi 'secret meeting' reports

Published December 3, 2015
A file photo showing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the closing session of the 18th Saarc summit in Kathmandu on November 27, 2014.— Reuters/File
A file photo showing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the closing session of the 18th Saarc summit in Kathmandu on November 27, 2014.— Reuters/File

The Government of Pakistan on Thursday termed reports of a 'secret meeting' between Prime Minister Sharif and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi as baseless, Radio Pakistan reported.

No such meeting took place between the two leaders, the government's spokesman said.

Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also rubbished the reports, saying, "The report is completely baseless. No such meeting took place in Kathmandu during the Saarc summit."

Read: Sharif-Modi handshake rescues Saarc summit

A book 'This Unquiet Land — Stories from India’s Fault Lines', by veteran TV journalist Barkha Dutt, alleges Nawaz and Modi vanished for an hour to hold a quiet meeting ─ which was so secret that it was deniable ─ on the sidelines of a regional summit hosted by Nepal.

"A year ago all that the people saw was a quick handshake but away from TV cameras (they) held an hour-long secret meeting on the sidelines of the Saarc summit in Kathmandu," The Hindustan Times said, quoting the book.

The alleged meeting was facilitated by Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal, brother of former Congress MP Naveen Jindal.

Unknown to the media and certainly the public, both Nawaz and Modi had found someone to "keep them connected even when things got difficult", Ms Dutt writes, describing Sajjan Jindal as an informal messenger serving as a "covert bridge" between the two leaders.

During their first meeting when Nawaz came to Delhi for Modi’s swearing-in — the two PMs decided to keep the reins of the relationship in their hands, the Hindustan Times said quoting the journalist.

"However, they agreed that it could be useful to talk informally through a mutual acquaintance they both felt comfortable with."

The acquaintance was Jindal, who hosted a tea party for Mr Sharif after his meeting with Mr Modi in Delhi. When Dutt went to meet the Pakistani leader at the Capital’s Taj Mansingh hotel, she saw Jindal escort Nawaz's son Hussain for lunch.

"It was no secret that Indian steelmakers, both state and private players, were looking to foster friendly relations with Pakistan; they needed this to happen so they could ferry iron ore from Afghanistan by road across Pakistan from where it could be shipped to ports in western and southern India," Dutt writes.

Earlier this week, Nawaz and Modi had a 'chance meeting' on the sidelines of a climate summit in Paris.

The meeting took place when Modi went to the lounge for visiting leaders and found Nawaz sitting there, according to a diplomatic source who witnessed the interaction.

Noticing Nawaz’s presence, Modi walked up to him. The two leaders then warmly shook hands and sat next to each other and briefly chatted. No official delegates were present during the meeting.

Nawaz, Modi exchange pleasantries at UN Climate Change Confere...

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Spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup was quoted by Indian media as having said that there was only "exchange of courtesies".

But, according to TV channel reports, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that "talks with PM Narendra Modi were good. Doors of dialogue should open".

The meeting appeared to be an impromptu encounter in the VIP lounge outside the main plenary hall.

Although the Indian media, which is present at COP21 in large numbers, went into frenzy over the encounter, an official from the Pakistani delegation later clarified that the Modi-Sharif meeting was more of an ice-breaker than anything else.

Explore: Exposed! What Nawaz and Modi really talked about in Paris

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