Nepal to ‘wait and see’ as 4 members opt out

  • islamabad saarc summit
  • Eyes on Pakistan for announcement of summit cancellation
  • Foreign minister, foreign secretary and Saarc general secretary unavailable in Kathmandu for decisions
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu
Statement : "As the current chair of Saarc, the government of Nepal strongly urges that a conducive environment be created for the 19th SAARC Summit soon by ensuring the participation of all member states in line with the spirit of the Saarc Charter"— Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kathmandu

Sep 29, 2016-In the wake of India’s decision not to attend the 19th Saarc Summit in Pakistan, which is backed by three other member countries citing an escalation in tension between the two regional nuclear powers, Nepal has adopted a “wait and see” approach.

Officials in Kathmandu maintain that all the meetings of the regional grouping should be held on time and Nepal wants no delay in regional engagements. Kathmandu has not made its position clear as of Wednesday evening.

As the current chair of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Nepal has an additional responsibly, said Rishi Raj Adhikari, foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Following India’s move, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan conveyed their decision to stay away from the 19th Saarc Summit scheduled to take place in Islamabad on November 9 and 10.

The recent killings of 18 Indian soldiers in Uri, which India blames on militants crossing over from Pakistan, has renewed tension on the Indo-Pak border.

In retaliation, India on Tuesday unilaterally announced that “in the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad.”

According to the statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, “the 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”.

“India remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror.”

With the decision, the fate of the upcoming summit hangs in balance with the current chair Nepal and the host of the upcoming summit, Pakistan, not making their positions public. Nepal’s foreign minister and foreign secretary are in the United States for the United Nations General Assembly.

Kathmandu has received official letters from the four member states stating their inability to participate in the summit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

A senior government official said Nepal does not want cancellation of the summit. Besides, it was also the responsibility of Pakistan to reach out to the member states and prepare the ground for the summit, he added.

Prime Minister Dahal is monitoring the situation and taking inputs from officials, said Adhikari. With four member states deciding to pull out of the summit, according to the Saarc Charter and the precedents, the summit has automatically been postponed or cancelled.

Clause 5 of the Saarc Charter says decisions at all levels shall be taken on the basis of unanimity. The announcement of postponement or cancellation of the summit will be made by Pakistan, said Nepali officials. The Kathmandu-based Saarc Secretariat has relayed the decisions of the countries to all the member states. But the secretariat is also indecisive as Saarc General Secretary Arjun Bahadur Thapa remains out of Kathmandu to attend the Saarc Council of Ministers meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA.

 

Published: 29-09-2016 07:36

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