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India’s Gift: PM Modi Announces Satellite for SAARC in 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the launch of a satellite for the SAARC region in 2016 during his first SAARC Summit on Wednesday. Modi said, "We must work with compassion of our hearts, but also with the power of science."

Modi said that the gift of India “will benefit us.” On the PMO’s micro blogging website, External Affairs Minister Syed Akkrabuddin tweeted, "We plan to launch our satellite for the SAARC region by the SAARC Day in 2016."

However, speaking in the SAARC Summit for the first time, while raising the key issues, Modi stressed on the issue of terrorism and urged the need to combat "terrorism and trans-national crimes".

He has mentioned the Mumbai Terrorist attack and said, "Today, as we remember the horror of the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008, we feel the endless pain of lost lives." He said people must keep commitments on security for all South Asia. Adding, he said, "Let us work together to fulfil the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and trans-national crimes."

Calling trade, investment assistance, cooperation and connectivity as the five pillars SAARC rests on, Modi said, "This is call of our times."

Amid, PM Modi is scheduled to meet the heads of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan and Bhutan during the 18th summit. Ahead of the summit, Modi has said, "Although this is my first Saarc Summit, during the last six months, I have interacted extensively with leaders of SAARC countries beginning with their auspicious presence at my swearing-in ceremony. Development of close relations with our neighbours is a key priority for my government."

Meanwhile, within hours after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that India should take an initiative to resume talks with Pakistan on Tuesday, India declared that PM Narendra Modi will not have a bilateral meeting with Sharif during the SAARC Summit.

In regard to India’s unilateral decision to call off foreign secretary-level talks, Sharif said that “Now the ball is in India’s court for talks between the countries.” He also said, “These talks should not have been cancelled unilaterally.”

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