Nepal Offers To Diffuse India, Pakistan Tensions; Host Unofficial SAARC Summit

Nepal has offered to play the role of a mediator between India and Pakistan, asserting that it was important for the two nuclear-armed neighbors to resolve their issues. Nepal has also proposed to host an unofficial SAARC summit to improve communication between member nations.

“Dialogue is the best way to resolve any problem. There may be differences but it can be resolved through dialogue. If necessary, we can play the role of a mediator too,” a Nepal government source said here.

The source, according to PTI, said that a better solution to resolve the issues would be to develop a better dialogue between two countries. “We can be instrumental, but it will be better (for the two sides) to develop direct contact,” the source said.

“When we come together, sit together and share views then things will be resolved. In every situation, we have to sit together and try to resolve the problem otherwise things can be deteriorated,” the source said.

Expressing concern over the uncertainty prevailing over the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, the source said the grouping should be revitalized and misunderstandings should be removed. “SAARC is not dead. It is alive. Only thing is that we have not met. Hope we can revive it,” the source said.

The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to “prevailing circumstances”.

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet. In the last three years, India has been distancing itself from the SAARC, citing security challenges facing the region from terror networks based in Pakistan, which is also a member of the grouping.

“We are strongly against all forms and manifestations of terrorism. But there is no relationship between the two (SAARC and terrorism). We cannot connect the two issues,” the source said. Identifying terrorism as a common threat to peace-loving countries, the source said, “We have to deal with the issue of terrorism”.

“I think that misunderstandings should be narrowed down and SAARC should be revitalized. It would be better to revise SAARC. I have told India that SAARC should be revitalized. We can find out amicable solutions,” they said.

SAARC summits are usually held biennially and hosted by member states in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association. Nepal will be “happy” to host an informal summit of the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on the sidelines of the coming Sagarmatha Sambaad here.

Speaking to Indian journalists here on Friday, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali reiterated that Nepal would also work to build greater connectivity with China. “It will be fantastic. We will be happy to welcome all SAARC leaders and provide them with… [an opportunity] to discuss measures informally to develop cooperation,” he said.

With Inputs From PTI and The Hindu