SAARC Foreign Ministers' Meet Cancelled After Pakistan Insists on Taliban's Participation

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The meeting of SAARC Foreign Ministers, which was scheduled to be held on September 25 in New York, has been cancelled due to lack of consent from the member countries over the participation of Afghanistan, a war-torn country that is now being governed by the Taliban, multiple diplomatic sources at the SAARC have confirmed.

This comes after the Imran Khan-led Pakistan government demanded the member states to allow the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to send a representative at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) foreign ministers’ annual meet, which was to take place on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

Pakistan’s demand was unanimously opposed by all SAARC member countries, the sources said.

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The Pakistan government also wanted the SAARC chair Nepal to guarantee that the erstwhile Ashraf Ghani-led Afghan government will not represent Afghanistan at the SAARC meeting, diplomatic sources said.

“SAARC Chair Nepal has refused to give any such guarantee to Pakistan or Taliban leadership and hence the meeting stands cancelled,” the sources confirmed.

Last year, the meeting was conducted virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SAARC comprises eight Member States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea, and the United States.

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