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SAARC summit unlikely after 4 nations pull out citing terrorism

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

The 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit is unlikely to be conducted in November, after four nations decided to pull out of the summit, citing increasing terrorism in the region.

Four out of the eight members of the South Asian grouping - India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan - have decided to skip the Summit which is to be hosted by Pakistan from 9 to 10 November.

Nepal, the current Chair of SAARC, has confirmed receiving messages from four nations conveying their inability to attend the summit due in Islamabad. However Nepal is yet to take a decision to on the summit.

Sri Lanka has also conveyed that the Summit will not be possible without India's participation.

Also read: SAARC summit - Pakistani newspapers match the Indian media's frenzy

If even one member does not attend, SAARC summit it is automatically postponed or cancelled.

However, the final decision rests on the current Saarc Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa, who is currently in New York and will return within two days.

With half of the SAARC nations the event, there is every possibility of the event being postponed, in a big diplomatic snub to Pakistan.

On Tuesday, India's foreign ministry announced its decision to skip the SAARC summit stating "increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of member states by one country" had created an environment that was not conducive.

On September 18, a cross-border terror attack on Indian Army base in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir took place, for which India has blamed terrorists based in Pakistan.

The Uri Attack came amidst the dragging unrest and violence in Kashmir Valley that has left around 90 people dead since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8.

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"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.

"In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad," said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup in the statement.

Pakistan has termed the boycott decision as "unfortunate".

In similar messages to Nepal, both Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan said that they decided to pull out of the summit due to increased levels of terrorism in the sub-continent.

First published: 29 September 2016, 8:49 IST