PM Modi won't attend SAARC Summit, Sushma Swaraj clarifies
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, has clarified that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Pakistan until cross-border terrorism is stopped. Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Swaraj said talks and terror can't go hand in hand. Swaraj's remarks come at a time when groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur border in Pakistan has gained attention.
On Tuesday, Pakistan's foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said PM Modi would be invited for the Summit in Islamabad. In 2016 too an invitation was extended to PM Modi, but India expressed his inability to participate in the talks after 18 soldiers were killed in an army camp in Uri. Later, the Summit was called off after Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also pulled out.
For many years the Indian Government has been asking for this (#Kartarpur) corridor, only now Pakistan responded positively. It doesn’t mean the bilateral dialogue will start because of this, terror talks can’t go together. : EAM Sushma Swaraj pic.twitter.com/ixAUOYs2mf— ANI (@ANI) November 28, 2018
About the Kartarpur corridor, which Pakistan confirmed to facilitate to allow Sikh devotees to visit the Gurudwara, Swaraj said India had been demanding it for a long time. "Only now Pakistan responded positively. It doesn't mean the bilateral dialogue will start because of this, terror and talks can't go together," she said. Notably, Cabinet members Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri have reached Pakistan for the ceremony.
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who discussed the Kartarpur corridor with Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan, reached Pakistan for the ceremony. About his attendance, Swaraj said it is for Congress to comment on it. She added the party and Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh should say something on it. Singh had declined the invitation.
"Sidhu told me he had already committed himself to go. When I informed him of the stand I had taken on the issue, he said it was personal visit but he would get back to me. But I did not hear from him," Singh said.