India spurns Nepal's nudge to revive Saarc

India spurns Nepal's nudge to revive Saarc

Cites continuing cross-border terror from Pakistan

India spurns Nepal's nudge to revive Saarc

India has spurned Nepal's nudge to end the impasse over the Saarc summit, stating that no breakthrough could be expected amid continuing cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli discussed the stalemate over the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

Oli sought New Delhi's help to end the impasse, but Modi told him that it was difficult to move ahead to revive the Saarc given the fact that terrorism continued to emanate from Pakistan.

"There was a mention of Saarc as well (in the meeting between the two prime ministers). And, as you know, while India is very supportive of all regional cooperation and connectivity issues, the views expressed by prime minister was that prime minister Oli must be well aware of the circumstances (that led to the stalemate over the Saarc)," Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale, said.

Gokhale was briefing reporters after Modi and Oli met at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

"Prime minister (Modi) mentioned that he had very enthusiastically attended the Kathmandu Saarc summit (the 18th summit held in November 2014), but given the current state of play, where there is cross border terrorism and where there is disruptive forces in the region, it is difficult to proceed with such initiatives," Foreign Secretary added.

The 19th Saarc summit was scheduled to be hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad on November 9 and 10 in 2016.

It was, however, postponed after India decided to opt out, protesting against cross-border terrorism from the territory under Pakistani control.

Oli hosted Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Kathmandu early last month.

As Nepal holds the chair of the Saarc at present, Abbasi prodded Oli to create "favourable environment" for Pakistan government to hold the summit. Nepalese prime minister agreed with his counterpart from Pakistan that differences within the Saarc should be resolved through dialogue.

New Delhi, however, declined to budge from its stand on Saturday.

Uri attack

It was after the attack on Indian Army camp at Uri in northern Kashmir in September 2016 that New Delhi decided against Modi's visit to Islamabad for the Saarc summit to be hosted by Pakistan.

The terrorists sneaked into India from territory under illegal occupation of Pakistan. They crossed the Line of Control and attacked the camp of the Indian Army, killing 19 soldiers.

Bhutan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh rallied behind India and wrote to Nepal- currently the chair of the bloc- that the regional situation was not conducive to hold the summit.

Maldives too joined the bandwagon later, thus completing the isolation of Pakistan.

Blocking initiatives

New Delhi has also been criticizing Islamabad for blocking many initiatives for regional connectivity and cooperation within the Saarc.

India has since 2016 focussing more on promoting regional cooperation through the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), particularly in the area of counter-terrorism and connectivity.

The BIMSTEC comprises Myanmar and Thailand, apart from five of the eight Saarc nations- India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.

Oli on Saturday conveyed to Modi that he looked forward to hosting the BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu this year.

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