India for Nepal as future SAARC summits hosts | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 20, 2003 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:06 PM, May 28, 2013

India for Nepal as future SAARC summits hosts

India said Sunday it was open to Nepal hosting all South Asian summits after refusing to confirm participation in a meeting hosted by arch-rival Pakistan.

Junior foreign minister Digvijay Singh told the Press Trust of India's Hindi service that an envoy from Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga recently proposed that the Nepali capital Kathmandu host all summits of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

"Any decision in this regard has to be taken by consensus," Singh said of the proposal. "We will support any move that will strengthen SAARC."

Kathmandu is home to SAARC's regional secretariat and in January 2002 hosted the last summit.

The seven members of the regional association are supposed to rotate hosting duties for the summit and it was to be Pakistan's turn this year.

But Islamabad has indefinitely postponed the summit after India refused to confirm its participation.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said he will only travel to Islamabad if Pakistan ends the "cross-border terrorism" he says Pakistan sponsors in the Indian zone of Kashmir, torn by a 13-year separatist insurgency.

Vajpayee charged that Pakistan would try to turn the South Asian summit into a forum on Kashmir, which "is not a SAARC issue."

SAARC, founded in 1985, has been nearly ineffectual due to constant feuding between its two largest members, which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 and came close to a fourth last year.

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