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SAARC summit may be postponed as Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan pull out

A day after India announced its decision of not attending the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have also pulled out of the summit. All the three countries blame Pakistan for the current atmosphere of terror and held that it was not fit for hosting the summit.

Even though the final announcement of the summit postponement will be made in Kathmandu in the next few days, the Nepal Foreign Ministry said: “The government of Nepal has received communications from the SAARC secretariat transmitting the diplomatic notes from four SAARC member states namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and India in which they have conveyed their inability to participate in the 19th SAARC summit scheduled for November 9 and 10 in Islamabad, stating that the current regional environment is not conducive to the successful holding of the summit.”

The ministry also said that, “We have taken this development seriously. 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.”

Bangladesh in a letter to the SAARC, “The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”

“Bangladesh, as initiator of the SAARC process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere. In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.”

Afghanistan also conveyed to the SAARC chair that “due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit.”

Bhutan, which was not directly affected by the terrorist attacks from Pakistan-based groups, conveyed its inability to attend the summit, since it wanted to show its solidarity with South Block.

India’s announcement was made by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday which said “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”. MEA (Indian Express)

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