Saarc Summit in Islamabad to be postponed as four nations have backed out: MEA

The 19th Saarc Summit to be held in Pakistan in November has been postponed. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed that it will be postponed since four nations have decided not to attend the summit in Islamabad, reported ANI.

Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of MEA said that according to the rules of the Saarc summit, if even one head of state or government decides not to participate, it has to be postponed.

However, he said that a formal statement can only be made by Nepal. The announcement will be made later by the Kathmandu-based Saarc Secretariat, in accordance with and suggestions from Nepal, the current chair of the regional grouping.

Swarup also expressed his disappointment over Pakistan's insistence on pursuing the same path which led to this current decision. He said that India's commitment to Saarc remains intact.

However, India cannot conceive of Saarc summit taking place when cross-border terrorism and cross interference in its internal affairs continues. Swarup said that it's time for Pakistan to introspect what kind of relationship it wants with Saarc.

Nepal, as current chair of Saarc, has received letters from India, Bhutan and Bangladesh where they have categorically expressed their inability to participate in the summit due to tension in a part of the region.

Diplomatic sources told IANS that another member, Afghanistan, has also expressed its inability to attend the summit but Nepal has not received a formal letter in this respect yet.

"We will make our position public soon," said a senior Nepal foreign ministry official, adding that as the Foreign Minister is travelling to the US to attend the UNGA, it will take some days for Nepal to come up with its position.

After India decided not to attend the summit in Pakistan, it is now Sri Lanka that is likely to host the summit.

With inputs from IANS.

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Updated Date: Sep 28, 2016 19:03:48 IST