New Delhi: Amid heightened India-Pakistan tensions, India will participate at the SAARC foreign ministers meeting scheduled to be held on 26 September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, officials said on Thursday. The meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA could bring Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi face to face for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions.
Asked about a possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart as well as the future of the SAARC regional grouping, Jaishankar, at a press conference earlier this week, had said, “If and when I meet Pakistani Foreign Minister, we will see at that time what happens.”
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan will be present in the US next week and will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings.
An official said India would participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation foreign ministers meeting that is scheduled for 26 September. He said the SAARC was about regional cooperation and that refers to trade, MFN, connectivity etc, adding that now every member knew which country was promoting SAARC and which one was impeding it.
Last year, then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had attended the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting, usually held on the sidelines of the UNGA. In a veiled attack on Pakistan, Swaraj had told the meeting that the scourge of terrorism remains the single largest threat to peace and stability in the South Asian region and it is necessary to eliminate the ecosystem of its support.
The meeting was attended by foreign ministers of the SAARC bloc: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Swaraj had immediately left after her remarks at the meeting and did not have any exchange with her Pakistani counterpart Qureshi.