India on Thursday dashed any hopes of reviving the Saarc process, saying the regional grouping could only function in an atmosphere free from terrorism. Equally, the government reiterated that it would engage in security groups like the “quadrilateral” as long as it advanced Indian interests.
“India is open and willing to work with like minded countries on issues that advance our interests and promote our interests,” secretary (east) Preeti Saran told journalists.
Responding to questions about remarks by Pakistan’s minister for environment who said the current state of atmospheric pollution could be addressed by both countries under the Saarc framework, the MEA spokesperson said Saarc meetings could only happen when “one country” decided to stop providing an enabling environment to terrorism. The MEA statement came on the back of Pakistani reports that Sri Lanka had supported Pakistan on reviving Saarc.
On Sunday, PM Narendra Modi heads out to the Philippines for his first official visit there and his fourth Asean-India and East Asia summits, where he is expected to hold talks with President Rodrigo Duterte, and perhaps US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump is on a trip through Asia and was reluctantly persuaded to stay on for the EAS.
Briefing journalists, Preeti Saran said besides attending the summit and bilateral meetings, “PM will attend the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Asean, and an Asean business and investment summit”. Officials of India, the US, Australia and Japan are expected to meet on the sidelines of the EAS to thrash out the details of the resurrected quadrilateral.
Fighting radicalisation of impressionable youth was a big concern, Saran said. India, she said, “had proposed an international conference to fight radicalisation. We are working out the date and details”.
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