No consensus that will permit holding of SAARC summit: India
The stern response was to Pakistan Foreign Minister's remarks on New Delhi’s participation in 19th SAARC Summit
Rebuffing Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s remarks about the 19th SAARC Summit, India on Thursday said there has been no material change in the situation since 2014, and therefore there is still no consensus that would permit the holding of the summit.
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, in a weekly press briefing, said, “We have seen media reports regarding the 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,” he said.
“There has been no material change in the situation since then, therefore, there is still no consensus that would permit the holding of the summit. I think I'll leave it at that,” Bagchi added.
India’s stern response came after Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi had said on Monday that his country was ready to host the 19th SAARC Summit and India can join it virtually if the leadership in New Delhi is not willing to visit Islamabad.
Qureshi accused India of making SAARC dysfunctional through its stubbornness by refusing to come to Islamabad for the Summit meeting.
"I reiterate the invitation for the 19th SAARC summit. If India is not ready to come to Islamabad, it can join virtually but it should not stop others from attending the moot,” he said.
Since 2016, SAARC, a regional grouping that includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, has been ineffective, and its biennial summits have not taken place since the last one in Kathmandu in 2014.
The 2016 SAARC Summit was scheduled to take place in Islamabad from November 15 to 19, 2016. However, following a terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri, Jammu & Kashmir, on September 18, that year, India announced that it would be unable to attend the summit due to "current circumstances."
After Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Afghanistan declined to attend the Islamabad meeting, the summit was cancelled.