Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sushma Swaraj evades encounter with Shah Mahmood Qureshi at UN

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UNITED NATIONS: As both the neighboring countries having their relation at a new low, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reportedly avoided any contact with her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi as the two leaders attended a meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

It was expected that the two leaders would exchange pleasantries when they come face-to-face at the meeting, but it happened contrary to all the speculations. A report from IndiaTVNews said Mr. Qureshi also avoided having an interaction with Ms Swaraj.

The SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting had hogged the limelight when Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and proposed that the foreign ministers of the two countries meet in New York.

India initially accepted the proposal but called off the meeting between the two foreign ministers within 24 hours, on the pretext of alleged killings of Indian security personnel in the Occupied Kashmir.

The SAARC meeting in New York, held at the Westin Grand Central Hotel, was presided over by Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali as Nepal is currently the chair of the eight-nation grouping.

According to reports, Swaraj read out her statement at the meeting and left just before her Pakistani counterpart was to make his statement. Even the Afghan foreign minister left after reading out his statement.

This upset Qureshi as he blamed India for blocking the progress of SAARC. “She (Swaraj) left mid-way. Maybe she wasn’t feeling well. I listened to her statement. She talked of regional cooperation. How is regional cooperation possible, when everybody is ready to sit and talk and you (India) are blocking that?” Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was quoted as saying by a media report from that country.

Later, speaking to a foreign news channel, Qureshi said war was not an option for resolving issues between two nuclear-armed neighbours.

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