Cricket diplomacy: PM Modi calls up 4 Saarc leaders ahead of World Cup

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New Delhi, Feb 13: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday played yet another foreign policy card eyeing at South Asian harmony and this time he made the about-to-begin cricket World Cup the means.

In a series of tweets, Modi said he called up leaders of the four South Asian nations participating in the quadrennial tournament Down Under and wished them the best. Besides India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are taking part in the 14-team tournament kicking off on Saturday.

PM Modi's World Cup diplomacy

Former champions Sri Lanka will face co-hosts New Zealand at Christchurch in the opening match of the tournament. Defending champions India and 1992 champions Pakistan will take on each other at Adelaide on Sunday. Bangladesh and Afghanistan will play each other in their opening match at Canberra on February 18.

The prime minister called up Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

In another tweet, Modi said all the five members of the South Asian Association of Southeast Nations (Saarc) taking part in the World Cup are excited about it and hoped the tournament "will celebrate sportsman spirit and will be a treat for sports lovers".

Modi said in another tweet that the game of cricket connects people of South Asia and promotes goodwill. He expected the Saarc nations to bring laurels to the region.

PM Modi had invited all Saarc leaders during his swearing-in on May 26

India had won the previous World Cup which was held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Pakistan could not host matches owing to security reasons.

In his final tweet on the topic, Modi said New Delhi will soon send S Jaishankar, who was appointed the foreign secretary recently, to the Saarc nations to improve ties.

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