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SAARC Foreign Ministers’ Meet Cancelled After Pakistan Insists Taliban’s Participation

The in-person 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 Imran Khan-led Pakistan government insisted the member states that the Taliban government in Afghanistan should be permitted to send a representative at the forthcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) foreign ministers’ annual meet.

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

Pakistan 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 Covid-19 pandemic.

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The meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers was to take place on September 25 on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York.

SAARC comprises of 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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