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Bimstec leaders to attend PM Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony

The Presidents of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar, the prime ministers of  Mauritius, Nepal and Bhutan as well a special envoy from Thailand will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his second term in office on May 30, the MEA confirmed late on Tuesday evening.

According to the MEA, the leaders who confirmed their participation are Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, Sri Lankan President  Maithripala Sirisena, Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Myanmar President Win Myint, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Bhutan Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering and  Special Envoy of Thailand Grisada Boonrach.

The MEA said, “We look forward to receiving the dignitaries in New Delhi for the ceremony.”

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, a close friend of India, is travelling abroad currently on an official visit and so her country is being represented by its President.

India had on Monday invited leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) — that comprises (apart from India) Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand for the swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi.

Apart from leaders of these countries, the leaders of Kyrgyzstan — the current Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation — and  Mauritius (the PM), who was the Chief Guest at this year’s Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, have also been invited.

It may be recalled that PM Modi had invited leaders of Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) for his first Swearing-in ceremony in 2014 which had included then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. But this time, Pakistan PM Imran Khan has not been invited since Pakistan is not a member of Bimstec. This also indicates that the government wanted to tread cautiously in the case of Pakistan, given the bitterness in ties in the past few months.

In fact, the Indian government has been promoting BIMSTEC in a big way instead of Saarc ever since relations with Pakistan soured in 2016.

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