Under attack from the opposition for boycotting the SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad, the Sri Lankan government on Friday said there was no question of pulling out when there was “no summit to attend”.
“There was no question of pulling out when there was no summit to attend”, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told Parliament.
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He said Sri Lanka had regretted that conditions were not conducive to holding the Summit.
Samaraweera said the Lankan statement was released only after several countries had issued statements with their intention to pull out.
“We will take part (in the summit) whenever it happens,” he said.
The opposition hit out at the government, saying Sri Lanka was staying out of the summit to please India while hurting Pakistan.
Samaraweera said the South Asian region must unite against terrorism.
“Terrorism must unite our region not divide it,” he said while inviting the region’s leadership to forget the past and unite against terrorism.
Sri Lanka on Sepember 30 pulled out of 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad, becoming the fifth country to do so after India, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
“Sri Lanka regrets that the prevailing environment in the region is not conducive for holding the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad,” the Foreign Ministry had said in a statement.
On the same day, Pakistan had postponed the SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad from November 9 and 10.
Besides India, three other SAARC members — Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan — had pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which was not right for the successful holding of the meet.
Citing continuous cross border terrorism by Pakistan, India had announced last month that “in the prevailing circumstances, the Indian government is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.”
SAARC member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.