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SAARC: Ministers’ meet called off as Pakistan wants Taliban at table

Pakistan is learnt to have proposed that a Taliban representative should also be part of the meeting.

Sources said Pakistan wanted to keep an “empty chair”, and was against the participation of representatives from the previous Ashraf Ghani regime. (AP)

THE SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting, which was planned to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York this week, has been called off over Afghanistan’s participation.

Sources said Pakistan wanted to keep an “empty chair”, and was against the participation of representatives from the previous Ashraf Ghani regime. According to sources, if the meeting was held, a representative from Afghanistan’s mission at the UN in New York could have attended it.

Pakistan is learnt to have proposed that a Taliban representative should also be part of the meeting. The proposal was shot down by the remaining members. This was in view of the fact that the new Taliban regime has not yet been recognised by governments across the world, and they have also not approached the UN for credentials.

There was, however, no agreement on this issue among the SAARC members. Sources said this “lack of consensus” led to the cancellation of the SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting.

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Nepal’s foreign ministry on Tuesday sent a letter to the SAARC secretariat, saying that “due to the lack of concurrence from all member states as of today, the informal meeting of the SAARC council of ministers proposed to be held in person on September 25 on the sidelines of the 76th UN General Assembly session will not take place.”

Afghanistan is the youngest member state of SAARC, having joined in 2007. India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are part of the group. The SAARC Secretariat was set up in Kathmandu on January 17, 1987.

First published on: 22-09-2021 at 04:10:13 am
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