Differences over Afghanistan scuttle SAARC Foreign Ministers meet in New York

Issue of representation post-Taliban takeover could not be resolved

September 22, 2021 12:31 am | Updated 12:31 am IST - NEW DELHI

A meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, is unlikely to take place, the government of Nepal, the current chair of SAARC, has confirmed.

It is understood that disagreement over the representation of Afghanistan has led to the cancellation of the meeting. The meeting of SAARC foreign ministers at the UNGA had become contentious over the recent years because of differences between India and Pakistan regarding cross border terrorism among other issues.

The Hindu has learnt that initial understanding among the members was that during the meeting, the chair for Afghan foreign minister would remain empty. However, former Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has stated in a social media post that the issue of representation of Afghanistan “in the meeting became the bone of contention”.

The Taliban captured power in Kabul on August 15 but the political set up has not yet gained international legitimacy. Prime Minister Modi in his speech at the SCO-CSTO outreach event on September 17 had urged the global community to think carefully before granting recognition to the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan.

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