Modi invites SAARC heads for oath-taking ceremony

Modi invites SAARC heads for oath-taking ceremony

In a major diplomatic signal to the region as well as the global community, India's prime minister-designate Narendra Modi has invited heads of all the eight SAARC countries, including Pakistan, for his oath-taking ceremony May 26.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh has written to the SAARC heads inviting them for the swearing-in ceremony in the open forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace.

"The letters to the SAARC heads are being sent for the swearing-in ceremony scheduled for May 26 (Monday)," official sources said. SAARC comprises, besides India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

However, all eyes are on Pakistan to see if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will accept the unexpected invitation.

Asked if Sharif, who came to power last year, would attend the ceremony, Pakistani diplomatic sources said the invite had not yet reached Islamabad and hence they could not react immediately.

Modi, who steered the Bharatiya Janata Party to a stunning victory in India's general elections, has been greeted by most world leaders, including by neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Modi will take oath as India's 14th prime minister at the ceremony that is expected to be attended by over 3,000 invited guests and will be telecast live.

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