In the wake of strained relations with terror harbouring neighbour Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will skip the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad in November, according to a press briefing by the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday.
"In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad," said the MEA.
The MEA conveyed to the SAARC Chair Nepal that "the increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in internal affairs of Member States by one country" has created an environment that's not conducive to holding the summit successfully."
"India remains steadfast in commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity but believes that these can only go forward in atmosphere free of terror," it added.
Three other countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan – are reportedly skipping the SAARC summit scheduled to begin in Pakistan on November 9, according to news agency ANI.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has said it will not participate in the summit if India pulls out of it.
The full text of the statement released on the Ministry of External Affairs website reads:
1. In response to a question, the Official Spokesperson stated that India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Member States by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016. India remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror.
2. In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.
3. We also understand that some other SAARC Member States have also conveyed their reservation about attending the Islamabad Summit in November 2016.