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No Consensus On Holding SAARC Summit, India Says Days After Pakistan Offers Venue

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said Islamabad was ready to host the SAARC summit and that India could attend it virtually if it does not want to participate in-person.

No Consensus On Holding SAARC Summit, India Says Days After Pakistan Offers Venue
Representational Image - Official Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, India - Arindam Bagchi | Video Screengrab - Twitter - @MEAIndia
No Consensus On Holding SAARC Summit, India Says Days After Pakistan Offers Venue
outlookindia.com
2022-01-07T14:40:29+05:30

India on Thursday said there was no "material change" in the situation that would allow holding of the stalled SAARC Summit, days after Pakistan reiterated its offer to host it.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said Islamabad was ready to host the summit and that India could attend it virtually if it does not want to participate in-person.

"We have seen media reports regarding Pakistan foreign minister's remarks about the SAARC summit. You are aware of the background as to why the SAARC summit has not been held since 2014," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

"There has been no material change in the situation since then. Therefore, there is still no consensus that would permit holding of the summit," he said replying to a question at a media briefing.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional bloc comprising India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The SAARC has not been very effective since 2016 as its biennial summits have not taken place since the last one in Kathmandu in 2014.

The 2016 SAARC Summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to "prevailing circumstances".

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.

Asked to comment on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's reported remarks seeking the international community's attention against India on the Kashmir issue, Bagchi said the region is an integral and inalienable part of India.

He said the remarks were made by the prime minister of a country that openly encourages cross-border terrorism, provided shelter to Osama bin Laden and whose human rights record is known by the entire world.

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