Sushma Swaraj holds a round of SAARC diplomacy

New York, Oct 1: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj conducted a round of SAARC diplomacy here Wednesday, attending a lunch and holding bilateral meetings with foreign ministers from Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

At the lunch for SAARC foreign ministers hosted by Nepal's Foreign Minister Mahendra Pande, the participants discussed the SAARC satellite that Prime Minister narendra Modi offered at the grouping's summit in Kathmandu.

Swaraj holds SAARC diplomacy round

It was agreed that India could go ahead with the project even if all the SAARC members did not participate, external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said.

India and Pakistan have both offered to host the SAARC Disaster Management Centre. It was decided that all offers would be evaluated based on the criteria set for the centre.

In her bilateral meeting with Pande, Sushma Swaraj discussed the political situation in Nepal and inability of trucks from India to make deliveries there.

On the contentious constitution issue, Vikas said, "Our stand is very clear: we do not want to be prescriptive. It is for the people of Nepal, the political parties of Nepal to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution."

"There has been no blockade by India at all," Swarup said. "In fact, we can only take things up to the border; from the border it is the repsonsibility of Nepal to provide security for the trucks inside."

He said that 4,310 trucks waiting at the border could not proceed because of the internal situation in Nepal. Forwarders and truckers have complained about the difficulties they face in moving about in Nepal because of the security situation, he added.

Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera briefed Swaraj about the developments relating to the resolution proposed by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

The UNHRC has called for special courts with international participation to try those charged with war crimes during Sri LOanka's civil war.

Colombo has opposed the UNHRC proposal for so-called "hybrid courts" with both Sri Lankan and international judges and investigators on it. The United States is drafting a resolution on the subject and, according to media reports, it would call for hybrid courts. Sri Lanka is trying hard to block it.

Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon and Swaraj discussed the Joint Commision meeting to be held later this month. Swaraj is slated to attend the meeting in the Maldives.

The political situation in the Maldives also figured in their talks.

Swaraj also met two foreign ministers from outside the region. Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid Almoualem, who holds the foreign affairs portfolio, thanked her for an invitation to visit India. During a discussion of the political situation in Syria, Swaraj reiterated that there could not be military solution to the crisis.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez also met Swaraj briefly.


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