Pakistani PM Abbasi in Kathmandu

Published On: March 6, 2018 02:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 5: Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrived in Kathmandu on Monday for a two-day visit in a bid to seek Nepal's support in resumption of SAARC Summit. 

Abbasi is the first head of government to visit Nepal since Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was elected as the country's 38th prime minister on February 15, two months after he steered an alliance of left parties to a thumping victory in the parliamentary and provincial elections. 

Abbasi, who landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport on Monday afternoon, was welcomed by Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada together with a group of high-level delegates accompanying him in the tour. 

During his 19-hour-long stay in Nepal, Prime Minister Abbasi will hold meetings with Prime Minister Oli and other high-level dignitaries in the capital. He is also schedule to visit SAARC Secretariat on Tuesday. 

In a statement, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the visit was being held "as part of Pakistan's pro-active and outreach efforts to engage with regional countries."

"Prime Minister Abbasi's visit will provide an opportunity to further expand and strengthen bilateral relations across all areas of mutual interests including trade, education, tourism, defence and people-to-people contacts. Ways of invigorating SAARC as an important regional organization will also be discussed," Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in the statement issued on Sunday.
The issues pertaining to SAARC, a regional block of eight South Asian countries, is likely to top agendas of the meeting between the two prime ministers. The process of SAARC Summit has remained stalled for two years with growing tensions between India and Pakistan. 

Pakistan, which was expected to host the SAARC Summit in November 2016, had to cancel it after India and three other SAARC member countries-- Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan-- announced to boycott the summit amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir issue.

Before the summit was postponed for indefinite period, India had conveyed to the SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region had created an environment that was not conducive to the successful holding of the summit.

Nepal has consistently taken a neutral stance on Kashmir issue and has been urging India and Pakistan to create a conducive environment for the summit putting asides their bilateral differences. 

Two hours after landing in Nepal, Abbasi was given a guard of honor by a cavalry of Nepal Army at the Army Pavilion at 6 pm on Monday evening. PM Oli is hosting a special dinner for the Pakistani delegates at Hotel Yak and Yeti.  Abbasi is scheduled to hold courtesy meeting with President Bidya Devi Bhandari at 10 am on Tuesday before flying back home the same day. 

Abbasi is the first Pakistani prime minister to visit Nepal on a purely bilateral visit since Benazir Bhutto visited Nepal in 1994. However, other Pakistani prime ministers have visited Nepal to attend SARRC summits in between. 

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