Sharif-Modi handshake salvages Saarc summit

NEW DELHI: A brief meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi appears to have salvaged a summit of South Asian leaders, with all eight countries clinching a last-minute deal to create a regional electricity grid.

“Yes, the electricity agreement will be signed,” Nepal’s foreign minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said, as the leaders emerged from a mountain retreat outside the Nepali capital of Kathmandu.

Sharif and Modi shook hands at the retreat, Pandey said, but gave no details. Until that point in the summit, the leaders of the two rivals had cold-shouldered each other. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, and just last month exchanges of fire across the border in disputed Kashmir killed 20 people. Peace talks were called off in August.

The squabbling between the rivals is widely blamed for the poor performance of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which was originally founded with the goal of. INP

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