Sushma Swaraj had other meetings scheduled.
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Thursday left the SAARC inter-ministerial informal meeting midway on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, prompting a criticism from Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
“In the progress of SAARC only one country’s behaviour is the stumbling block. When it comes to any positive gesture from India’s side, all I can say is that she left the meeting midway, maybe she wasn’t feeling well,” Mr Qureshi said.
It is understood that Ms Swaraj had other meetings scheduled.
Before she left, Ms Swaraj made India’s stance clear at the SAARC meeting that India won’t engage in regional cooperation when terrorism is posing a clear danger to South Asia.
“The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia are on the rise. Terrorism remains the single-largest threat to peace and stability in our region, and indeed in the world. It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support,” the foreign minister said.
“I would like to stress that meetings, including high-level ones can only be effective if expressions of resolve are translated in to concrete action on the ground,” Ms Swaraj said.
India called off talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of the UNGA after three policemen were kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, and over Pakistan’s move to release stamps glorifying terrorist Burhan Wani, who was killed by the security forces in 2016.
Mr Qureshi also reacted to the cancellation of the meeting. “How can one talk of regional trade when you fail to agree on a date for a summit ? India is saying the meeting cannot happen because the atmosphere is not conducive. Who will decide the atmosphere is not conducive? How do you define a conducive atmosphere? It can vary from country to country and person to person,” he said.
After India’s decision to cancel the meet, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had tweeted: “Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue. However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture.”
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