‘PM Imran unlikely to be invited at Modi’s swearing-in ceremony’

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NEW DELHI: India will not invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi, who starts his second term as India’s prime minister, sources said.

An Indian government statement on Monday said the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan – all members, with India, of the little-known Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) – have been invited to Modi’s swearing-in.

“This is in line with Government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” a government spokesperson said. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius have also been invited, but two sources in Indian’s foreign ministry said Pakistan will not be on the list, without providing further information.

For the swearing-in ceremony for Modi’s first term in 2014, all nations from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), that includes Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Maldives, were invited.

In 2014 Pakistan’s then prime minister Nawaz Sharif attended the ceremony, to the anger of some of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist allies.

Modi could still meet PM Imran at a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan next month, that both leaders may attend.

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