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Nepal nudges India on Saarc summit

Updated January 12, 2019

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“If US President Trump and North Korea’s Kim can meet, then why not [leaders of] other countries,” Nepalese FM says.— AP/File
“If US President Trump and North Korea’s Kim can meet, then why not [leaders of] other countries,” Nepalese FM says.— AP/File

NEW DELHI: Nepal on Friday strongly pitched for a South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit, saying that differences should be resolved through dialogue and the grouping should collectively deal with terrorism and other key challenges facing the region, the Press Trust of India said.

According to the news agency, Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali cited last year’s historic talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, saying that dialogue was the only way to address differences.

“If US President Trump and North Korea’s Kim can meet, then why not [leaders of] other countries,” he said during an interaction with a group of foreign policy experts and reporters.

It is Pakistan’s turn to host the summit. However, India — citing continued support to alleged cross-border terrorism by Islamabad — has been maintaining that it is difficult to proceed with the summit.

The 2016 Saarc summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after a deadly terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir that year, India expressed its inability to participate in it.

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also refu­s­ed to participate in the meet. The Maldives and Sri Lanka are the seventh and eighth members of the group.

“There is no alternative to sitting together and mitigating differences. The problems we [the region] are facing cannot be resolved alone. We need to put collective efforts to deal with various key challenges like climate change and terrorism,” Mr Gyawali said.

The Nepalese foreign minister, who held bilateral talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday, said his country had been raising the issue of the Saarc summit with India. “I am hopeful the summit will be held soon,” he said.

Saarc summits are usually held biennially, hosted by a member-state in alphabetical order. The member-state hosting the summit assumes the chair of the association. The 2014 summit was held in Kathmandu and was attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019

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