India rejects Pakistan’s plea for hosting Saarc Summit

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New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Asserting that terror and talks cannot go together, India on Thursday rejected new Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s proposal for holding a Saarc Summit in Islamabad. India, however, accepted Islamabad’s request for a meeting of the foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session later this month.

Responding to a question during a media briefing here, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India’s stand the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) “has been very clear and consistent”.

“Time and again we have said that the atmosphere in the region is not conducive for this Summit,” Kumar said.

“This is not only India which has felt in this manner,” he stated.

“There are a number of other countries in the region that have accordingly felt that under the shadow of terrorism and cross-border terrorism, it is difficult to hold the Saarc Summit which is to be hosted by Pakistan.”

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Earlier, in his briefing, Kumar announced that Sushma Swaraj and Qureshi will meet at the UN, the first foreign minister-level meeting between the two South Asian nuclear neighbours in nearly three years.

India will also participate in an informal meeting of Saarc foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA session.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that was received on September 17, Imran Khan sought to hold the 20th Saarc Summit in Islamabad.

“The Summit will offer an opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to re-start the stalled dialogue process,” he wrote.

Following a cross-border terror attack from Pakistan at an army base in Jammu and Kashmir in September 2016 that killed 17 Indian soldiers, the Saarc Summit that was to be held in Islamabad later that year had to be cancelled as other member states of the bloc joined India in boycotting it.

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–IANS

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