India attends SAARC Foreign Ministers Informal Summit
On September 24, 2020, the external Affairs Minister S Jaishankar attended the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation Foreign Ministers Informal meet virtually. During the meet, it was highlighted that SAARC should overcome cross border terrorism, blocking of connectivity and obstruction in trade. These three are currently considered the three greatest challenges of SAARC grouping.
During the summit, the external Affairs Minister highlighted that India has been supporting its SAARC neighbours Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan by providing timely financial assistance since the beginning of COVID-19. He also reaffirmed the India is committed towards building prosperous, integrated and connected Asia through its Act East Policy and Neighbourhood First Policy.
About the meet
The meet was hosted by the Nepalese Foreign Minister.
During the meet, the external Affairs minister reaffirmed the following
- India has provided 200 million USD of financial help to Bhutan, 150 million USD to Maldives since 2020.
- SAARC has made progress towards collaboration, collective prosperity in the last 35 years.
- Currently, it is important for the members of SAARC to earn collective trust and confidence and evolve stronger in defeating terrorism
- India directly blamed Pakistan for stalling functioning of SAARC, blocking connectivity and for sponsoring terrorism.
Pakistan at the meet
Pakistan was represented by the Pakistan foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He opposed and condemned changing status of disrupted territories. He also mentioned that such actions violate United Nations Security Council Resolution. It is to be noted that Pakistan has announced election date for Gilgit-Baltistan on September 24, 2020. The election to the disputed region is to be held on November 15, 2020.
During the summit, Pakistan emphasized its willingness to host the 19th SAARC Summit. In 2016, India boycotted the 19th SAARC summit that was to be held in Pakistan following Uri attack.