Nepal is set to congregate a SAARC ministerial meeting in New York on Thursday. The meeting is generally expected to cover the way for an icebreaker dialogue between India and Pakistan, whose relations are in the lowest ebb in the outcome of recent border skirmishes and Indian clampdown on Kashmir.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pradeep Gyawali stated that Nepal is gathering on 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in its range as the chair of the regional body.
Due to the constrained relations between India and Pakistan, the SAARC summit has not been retained for the last four years since Nepal hosted the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on November 2014. Although Nepal was deemed to hand over the chair to Pakistan in the 19th SAARC Summit, which was programmed for 2016 in Islamabad, the summit was canceled among escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.
Nepal has intended to urge both India and Pakistan for the revitalization of the regional organization for a multilateral cooperation, said Gyawali.
“Nepal has been convening the informal [ministerial] meeting of SAARC every year on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly,” said Gyawali. “I cannot claim that the meeting would be able to make any decisions about the next SAARC summit but it will help minimize differences between the member states and enhancing regional cooperation.”
Foreign ministers from India, Pakistan, and other SAARC member states have confirmed their participation in the meeting, according to Lok Chhetri, spokesperson at Nepal’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. Last year, the then Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had arrived for the SAARC ministerial meeting, made her address and left early.
Nepali officials have said the assistance of foreign ministers from both India and Pakistan to discuss SAARC is a positive gesture. “Regional and multilateral cooperation is very important for us and it is part of our foreign policy as well. We will leave no stone unturned to revitalize SAARC,” said Foreign Minister Gyawali.
India has frequently scorned the invitation of Pakistan to attend the SAARC Summit, saying that no discussion can take place between India and Pakistan until Islamabad demonstrates ‘visible action toward curbing terrorist activities emanating from its soil’.
The last SAARC Summit programmed to be held in Islamabad in 2016 was dropped after India showed its inability to attend it following the terror attack at an army camp in Uri, Jammu, and Kashmir. Back before, India had said that following the “prevailing circumstances”, it would not be able to attend the summit. A total of 19 Indian soldiers were killed in the attack. After India, other member states including Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Afghanistan also chose not to participate in the Islamabad summit.