MEA says Pak's support of cross-border terrorism adversely affected regional cooperation under SAARC

New Delhi [India], Jan 30 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that the regional cooperation promoted under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has been affected by the cross border terrorism that is being supported by "one country," in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

"India enjoys an excellent bilateral relationship with all the SAARC countries except one. Regional cooperation is adversely affected when you have cross border terrorism, where a country supports cross border terrorism and when a country also interferes in the internal matters of another country," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a weekly briefing.

On Friday, Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said that his country is not only ready but "eager and in hurry" to hand over the chairmanship of SAARC as they have been carrying the "baggage since more than four years" that was supposed to hand over in 2016.

SAARC is a regional intergovernmental organisation and geopolitical union of states in South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives.

The 18th SAARC summit was the last annual meeting attended by India that took place in Kathmandu in 2014.

Pakistan was to host the next summit in 2016, but, the summit was cancelled after India decided against participating in it following the terror attack at a military camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

Other countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate and the meeting was called off following India's decision to exit the summit to step up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

In December last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that efforts for greater collaboration among SAARC member states have been repeatedly challenged with threats and acts of terror and such an environment impedes the shared objective of realising the regional body's full potential.

"SAARC has made progress, but more needs to be done. Our efforts for greater collaboration have repeatedly been challenged with threats and acts of terrorism. Such an environment impedes our shared objective of realising the full potential of SAARC," Prime Minister Modi had said in a letter addressed to the SAARC Secretariat. (ANI)