Regional cooperation is adversely affected due to cross border terrorism: MEA on SAARC

New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) India on Thursday said it enjoys excellent relationship with all the SAARC countries except one and regional cooperation is adversely affected when a country supports cross border terrorism -- an obvious reference to Pakistan.

India's assertion comes days after a top Nepalese government source underlined the importance of dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve their differences that could also lead to the revival of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Nepal's Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali had also said his country is 'ready and eager' to handover the Chairmanship of the SAARC grouping to Pakistan.

Asked about the remarks, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, 'On numerous occasions, we have made our position clear on the SAARC process. India enjoys excellent relationship with all the SAARC countries except one.' 'But, regional cooperation is adversely affected when you have cross border terrorism, when a country supports cross border terrorism and when a country also interferes in the internal affairs of another country,' he said in an obvious reference to Pakistan.

Nepal had also offered to 'mediate' between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and cross-border terrorism.

The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to 'prevailing circumstances'.

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate.

In the last three years, India has been distancing itself from the SAARC, citing security challenges facing the region from terror networks based in Pakistan, which is also a member of the grouping.

Kumar also said that the Indian side has received an invitation from Nepal for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the dialogue forum Sagarmatha Sambaad. He said a decision is yet to be taken whether the PM would attend or not.

To a separate question on when US President Donald Trump would visit India, he said both sides are engaged in working out the details. PTI ASK ASK TIR TIR