Maldives wants conducive environment for Saarc Summit

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Male, Oct 1: With Pakistan announcing that the Saarc Summit scheduled to be held in November will be postponed, Maldives has sought a "conducive environment" for the eight-nation bloc's gathering.

"The Government of Maldives has urged the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to create an environment conducive for holding the 19th Saarc Summit," the Maldives Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Friday.

Maldives joins India, boycotts Saarc

"The appeal follows the decisions by some of the Saarc member states who have expressed their inability to attend the Summit scheduled for November due to terrorism, and threats to regional and international peace," it said.

India on Tuesday said it was pulling out of the Saarc Summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad on November 9-10 because of continued state sponsorship of terrorism in the region.

New Delhi took the decision after the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 soldiers.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan joined India citing the same reason forcing Islamabad to announce the postponement of this year's Saarc Summit.

Also read: Pakistan announces cancellation of Saarc Summit, new dates expected soon

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to attend the Islamabad event.

"The Maldives condemns international terrorism, especially those originating from outside," the statement issued in Male said. "The Saarc Summit can be convened only with the participation of heads of state or government of all of its member states," it said.

"The Maldives encouraged states to provide a valuable opportunity for the leaders to discuss critical issues facing the region and expressed hope that the required measures will be taken by relevant member states to convene the summit at an early date."

Maldives' move comes after Sri Lanka on Friday expressed its unwillingness to attend the Saarc summit in Islamabad.

Nepal, the current chair, said on Friday that the summit of the South Asian regional grouping cannot take place if even one member country notified its inability to participate in the event.

Saarc was founded in 1985 and its members are Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The last Saarc Summit was held in Kathmandu in 2014. In 2011, the Maldives hosted the 17th SAARC Summit.

IANS

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