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'Only exchanged pleasantries': India, Pakistan deny reports of Modi-Imran meeting during SCO Summit in Bishkek

Modi exchanged usual pleasantries with Khan in the Leaders' Lounge at the venue of the SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital.

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'Only exchanged pleasantries': India, Pakistan deny reports of Modi-Imran meeting during SCO Summit in Bishkek
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pak PM Imran Khan during SCO Summit
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Both India and Pakistan on Friday denied reports of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Imran Khan during the SCO summit in Bishkek and said that the two leaders only exchanged pleasantries.

Modi exchanged usual pleasantries with Khan in the Leaders' Lounge at the venue of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the Kyrgyz capital, sources said.

It is also learnt that Khan congratulated Modi on his election victory during their first face-to-face interaction.

"There was no structured meeting decided. But yes there was a meeting, pleasantries were exchanged (between Modi and Khan). They shook hands," Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. 

"This happened when leaders were gathering at the holding room. Cannot say who initiated this as I was not present there. As I am saying that he (Imran Khan) congratulated him (Narenrda Modi) on his win. He defeated a very well entrenched political party, family in India in the elections," Qureshi added. 

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sources in India said "only exchange of usual pleasantries" between the two leaders took place. 

However, there was no meeting between the two leaders, they said. 

Both Modi and Khan were here to attend the annual summit of the SCO.

The exchange of pleasantries came over two weeks after Khan and Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts - Modi and Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar - pushing for restarting the bilateral talks.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

Khan had also made a telephone call to Modi on May 26 and expressed his desire to work together for the betterment of people of the two countries.

On his part, Modi said creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.

Following the phone call and letter by Khan to Prime Minister Modi after his re-election for a second term, there were speculation that both may have a meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit here.

Modi arrived here in the Kyrgyz capital on Thursday on a two-day visit to attend the annual summit of the SCO. He held bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

He also held talks with Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov on Friday during a bilateral visit during which the two countries upgraded their relations to strategic partnership level.

(With PTI inputs)

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