India pulls out of regional summit

Feb. 2, 2005 at 10:30 AM

NEW DELHI, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A South Asian summit was postponed Wednesday after India pulled out citing regional security concerns and political instability.

"We have formally communicated to the government of Bangladesh that India would not be able to attend the forthcoming SAARC Summit in Dhaka on the scheduled dates," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said.

The two-day conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was scheduled to begin Feb. 6.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision not to go comes a day after Nepal's King Gyanendra, also scheduled to attend, fired his government and declared a state of emergency. India condemned the move. It also comes after political violence in Bangladesh, including the weekend slaying of top opposition leader Shah Mohammad Kibria, a former finance minister.

"It is only in an environment free from political turmoil and violence that a summit would yield the desired outcome," Saran said.

Pakistan, the current head of the bloc, said new dates would be worked out after consultations among all seven nations.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka make up SAARC.

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