Jaitley unlikely to attend SAARC meet in Islamabad

Senior Finance Ministry official may attend; decision likely in the next couple of days

August 16, 2016 07:04 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 04:53 am IST - New Delhi

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will most likely skip the SAARC Finance Ministers’ conference in Islamabad on August 25 and 26 as some of his counterparts from other SAARC nations are also not likely to participate owing to domestic preoccupation.

According to official sources, a senior Finance Ministry official is likely to represent the country instead. Mr. Jaitley is expected to send a formal note to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in this regard.

“The decision on who should be asked to represent India at the SAARC Finance Ministers’ meet in Islamabad later this month will be taken over the next couple of days in consultation with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of External Affairs. The meeting doesn’t warrant the presence of India’s Finance Minister,” an official source said.

“Nepal, where a new government has just been sworn in, is unlikely to send a ministerial-level representative and will probably send an official. The Finance Minister of Bangladesh is also unlikely to attend. Only the participation of the Finance Minister of Sri Lanka is likely. In the circumstances, it will be appropriate for India to also send a Ministry official,” the source said.

Indian High Commission sources in Islamabad said they have not received any communication from the government about who will attend the conference.

The SAARC Finance Ministers’ conference is the next big item on the regional grouping’s agenda following the Home Ministers’ conference earlier this month and ahead of the summit scheduled for November.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s “unpleasant” visit to Pakistan for the SAARC Home/Interior Ministers conference had raised doubts on a ministerial-level representation from India at the Finance Ministers’ meeting.

Relations between the neighbours have not improved since Mr. Singh’s visit and it remains to be seen if the Prime Minister will travel to Pakistan for the summit.

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