29 October, 2020

An Issue Of Camaraderie

India objects, but SAARC agrees to informal political consultations

An Issue Of Camaraderie

It was something that India did not want and Prime Minister I.K. Gujral had left no doubt about it. But in the declaration of the ninth summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation at Male, the leaders agreed to initiate a process of informal political consultations among the SAARC nations for "fostering good neighbourly relations, relieving tension and building confidence".

The idea had come from Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga who had first raised it in May 1995. The Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom went a step further. In his opening remarks at the summit, he called for initiating a parallel process of political dialogue leading to a SAARC declaration on the principles of political cooperation and stability. This went far beyond what President Kumaratunga had suggested and turned out to be a non-starter. The Indian objections stemmed from a perception that political consultations could enter into tricky bilateral issues.

The agrement for informal political consultations is a major step for SAARC, whose success has been...



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