With Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony just two days away, anxiety rises over the list of invitees drawn up for the star-studded and high-profile event at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday, May 30.
Amidst widespread speculations over the attendance of many, leaders of all BIMSTEC countries on Tuesday confirmed their participation for the May 30 event, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Besides India, BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
Those international politicians include Special envoy of Thailand Grisada Boonrach, Myanmar Prez U Win Myint, Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, Sri Lanka President Sirisena and Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
"We look forward to receiving the dignitaries in New Delhi for the ceremony," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
However, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to give the ceremony a miss for the second consecutive time owing to her scheduled trip to East Asia from May 28.
Apart from BIMSTEC leaders, Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov, the current chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth are also invited for the Modi's swearing-in ceremony.
In 2014, Modi had invited all SAARC leaders including the then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony, in a major initiative to reach out to the neighbouring countries. However, invitation to BIMSTEC leaders for the event on Thursday is seen as an attempt to send a signal to Pakistan that India is not willing to engage with it.
Sharif's attendance at Modi's swearing-in ceremony in 2014 had triggered hopes of better ties between the two countries. However, the ties derailed after the Pathankot terror attack in January 2016.