Saarc Summit to be postponed as ‘Hasina, Modi decide to skip’

Saarc Summit to be postponed as ‘Hasina, Modi decide to skip’

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Dhaka: The 19th Saarc Summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, looks to be postponed as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi reportedly decided to not to attend it.
Bhutan and Afghanistan will also skip the summit, diplomatic sources in Dhaka and New Delhi told UNB adding that the current Saarc chair Nepal may officially announce the postponement of the Summit anytime. UNB News Agency Reported.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam told UNB that the Foreign Ministry has written to Saarc Secretariat and current Saarc chair conveying 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 host country — Pakistan is yet to react over the decision taken by Bangladesh, Pakistan and other members.
Quoting a statement of the Ministry of External Affairs, India’s NDTV on Tuesday night reported 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,” the report quoted the statement as saying.
Quoting Indian government sources, NDTV said three other countries have also pulled out — Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Afghanistan Ambassador to India had told Indian media last week that it was willing to consider a joint boycott of the summit along with India and other Saarc members.
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 Lnaka are exploring options how to precede further without Pakistan.

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