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Pakistan PM seeks Nepal’s support for holding Saarc meet

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said it would not be acceptable to Pakistan for the Saarc summit to be held at some other venue, according to officials.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2018 23:28 IST
Anil Giri
Anil Giri
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
Nepal-Pakistan relations,Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,KP Sharma Oli
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi with his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli in Kathmandu on March 5, 2018.(Courtesy Nepal foreign ministry)

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi sought Nepal’s support for efforts to host the much-delayed Saarc Summit in Islamabad during his meeting with his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli, according to officials who participated in the talks.

Abbasi told Oli on Monday that Pakistan is for the “early hosting of the 19th Saarc Summit”, the officials said. He also called on Nepal to play its role to make this “happen in the near future”.

He said it would not be acceptable to Pakistan for the summit to be held at some other venue, according to the officials.

Nepal is the current chair of the regional grouping. Pakistan was to host the summit in 2016 but it was cancelled when India pulled out over a string of cross-border terror attacks blamed on Pakistan-based terrorist groups, including an assault on an army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also decided to stay away from the summit over the cross-border terror attacks.

In an apparent reference to India, Abbasi said during a meeting with President Bidhya Devi Bhandari that issues between any two countries in the region should not affect the activities of Saarc. He emphasised the need to make Saarc more effective.

Addressing an event at the Saarc Secretariat in Kathmandu on Tuesday, Abbasi also said Pakistan has undivided belief in the grouping’s objectives, ideologies and principles, and is fully committed to its charter.

Stating that a peaceful environment is an imperative for regional development and prosperity, he pledged his support for peace and economic progress through Saarc.

Abbasi, who wrapped up his two-day visit on Tuesday, also discussed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Oli. He told Oli about how Pakistan is benefiting from the connectivity project, which he said would be a game changer for South Asia.

Though Nepal will not directly benefit from CPEC, it has already become part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a flagship project of President Xi Jinping.

Abbasi held talks with senior Nepali leaders on a range of regional and bilateral issues since his arrival in Kathmandu on Monday. Besides President Bhandari and Oli, he also met CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, several former prime ministers and top leaders of key political parties.

The Nepalese leaders and Abbasi exchanged views on revitalising the Saarc process, the foreign ministry said in a statement. Bhandari and Prachanda stressed the need for Saarc to work for greater peace, security and prosperity.

“Conflicts and incidents of violence…taking place in some nations in the world has caused huge human loss and pain. Such incidents must be stopped,” Bhandari told Abbasi.

During his meeting with Oli, Abbasi also discussed enhancing bilateral cooperation in investment, trade, tourism, agriculture and human resource development. Abbasi also announced the doubling of scholarships provided to Nepal and proposed the setting up of a bilateral parliamentary panel.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 23:28 IST