Published On: March 7, 2018 07:25 AM NPT By: Republica | @RepublicaNepal
"The third forum always helps whatever confidence-building measures or whatever other issues you want to deal with. Nepal has a unique sense of history as well and that can help facilitate those initiatives."
KATHMANDU, Mar 7: Pakistani Prime Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that Nepal could mediate talks between India and Pakistan for resuming the SAARC Summit and also resolving other bilateral issues facing the two countries.
In an interview with Republica before wrapping up his two-day visit to Nepal on Tuesday, Prime Minister Abbasi said that Nepal, given its historically neutral stance in regional affairs, can mediate talks between India and Pakistan on revitalizing SAARC and resolving other ongoing India-Pakistan issues.
"Yes, the SAARC forum is available here. The third forum always helps whatever confidence-building measures or whatever other issues you want to deal with. Nepal has a unique sense of history as well and that can help facilitate those initiatives," he said when asked if Nepal could mediate talks between India and Pakistan.
Abbasi, who is the first head of government to visit Nepal since Prime Minister KP Oli was elected prime minister last month, said that Pakistan is eager to host the SAARC Summit and pursue meaningful regional cooperation among eight South Asian countries and he is hopeful that his Nepal visit will help build consensus on that regard.
"We have been willing to host the summit since 2014 and it was supposed to happen in 2016. It has not happened, but we hope that consensus will be there to have the SAARC Summit. Other ministerial meetings are happening but the summit is crucial every few years so it can provide direction to the forum," he said. One of the major agendas of Abbasi's Nepal visit was to seek Nepal's support for resuming the SAARC Summit given Nepal's position as the SAARC Chair.
Pakistan was supposed to host the SAARC Summit in November 2016 but the summit was canceled after India and three other SAARC members -- Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan -- decided to boycott the summit citing rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. India, which is seen as arch-rival of Pakistan, had particularly conveyed to the SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border "terrorist attacks" in the region had created an environment that was not conducive to the successful holding of the summit. As a result, the summit has been shelved for an indefinite period.
Pointing to India, Prime Minister Abbasi further said that it is not good to impede regional cooperation by bringing up bilateral issues. He said even very difficult bilateral issues get resolved over time.
"We need to work to improve trade and connectivity and improve the prosperity of the people. That's all that matters. We have seen all over the world that very difficult bilateral issues get resolved. However, that doesn't mean we ignore regional issues. That is why we put a lot of importance in SAARC and continuing its processes," he said.
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