SAARC Summit finally postponed

New Age Online

SAARCThe 19th SAARC Summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, has finally been postponed after Bangladesh and India on Tuesday announced its inability to join it apparently amid regional tensions.
The summit is automatically postponed or cancelled if one member-country skips the event, reports United News of Bangladesh quoting Kathmandu Post on Wednesday.
State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam is likely to talk to the press on the latest development at the foreign ministry this afternoon.
Earlier on Tuesday, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi decided to refrain from joining the Summit.
Bhutan and Afghanistan will also skip the summit, diplomatic sources in Dhaka and New Delhi told UNB.
State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam told the news agency on Tuesday night that the foreign ministry has written to the SAARC secretariat and current SAARC chair conveying the message that Bangladesh cannot attend the SAARC Summit due to domestic engagements. The decision was conveyed on Tuesday, he added.
However, talking to UNB, a senior official here said the prime minister has decided to skip the summit following Pakistan’s ‘repeated and shameless’ interference in Bangladesh’s internal affairs over the trial of war criminals.
The ministry of external affairs, India on Tuesday said that prime minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Islamabad to participate in the SAARC summit in November as the atmosphere is ‘not conducive to a successful summit’.
India has conveyed to current SAARC chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of member states by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.
‘In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad,’ it said.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to have a bilateral meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Goa on October 16, where they are likely to discuss the future steps on regional cooperation.
Bangladesh finance minister AMA Muhith and home minister Asaduzzaman
Khan skipped the two SAARC ministerial-level meetings in Islamabad
citing domestic compulsion.
On September 19, prime minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh ‘firmly stands’ beside India at this difficult hour and expressed deep shock at the terrorist attack on the army base at Uri, Kashmir.
‘In line with its ‘zero tolerance’ policy against terrorism and violent extremism, Bangladesh firmly stands beside India at this difficult hour,’ she wrote to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Bangladesh officials said Bangladesh and India will continue to work together in their ‘common endeavour’ to eradicate the menace of cross-border terrorism from this region and beyond and both the leaders will further discuss it the Goa event.
Diplomatic sources said four countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have progressed much with BBIN initiative leaving Pakistan and these countries along with Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are exploring options how to precede further without Pakistan.

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