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Sushma Swaraj likely to attend SAARC council of ministers’ meeting in New York

By: PTI | New Delhi |

Published: September 20, 2018 8:40:08 am

Sushma Swaraj likely to attend SAARC council of ministers' meeting in New York Union minister Sushma Swaraj (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey/File)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to attend an informal meeting of SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York later this month, official sources said Wednesday. Asked about the possibility of a meeting between Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in New York, they, however, said her schedule is being worked out.

The SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) foreign ministers’ informal meeting has been taking place for last few years on the margins of the UNGA. In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said it is “engaged” with India to facilitate a bilateral meeting between Qureshi and Swaraj in New York. Both Swaraj and Qureshi will be in New York next week to attend the UNGA.

The India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years following a spate of terror attacks in India by Pakistan-based terror groups. India has not been holding official talks with Pakistan following the attacks. Asked about possibility of India participating in SAARC summit if it is organised, the sources said it will not change its position unless Pakistan stops cross-border terrorism.

The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Modi. 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” and stepped up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.

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