SAARC on verge of collapse: Sri Lanka offers to play honest broker

1737194022SI P01 22 10 P hgw in sri lankan newsAmidst heightening tensions between India and Pakistan and the future of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) being at stake, Sri Lanka has  offered to play the role of honest broker.

The assurance was given by President Maithripala Sirisena when Pakistan Foreign Secretary  Tehmina Janjua  called on him in Colombo last week, diplomatic sources said.

Regretting the cancellation of the 19th SAARC Summit which was to be held in Islamabad last November, after India pulled out accusing Pakistan of cross border terrorism, President Srisena had emphasized the importance of the eight- member grouping. comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh , Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka sticking together  for their own sake.

Pakistan has in response accused India of committing human rights violations in Kashmir.

Pointing out  the urgent need for the two South Asian giants  to resolve their differences in the larger interest of SAARC, Sirisena had observed that it would  contribute to both regional stability and economic prosperity.

The President had also assured the visiting Foreign Secretary that his government would campaign for continuity, in keeping with the SAARC Charter, so that the next Summit would be held in Islamabad.

He thanked  Pakistan  for assisting  Sri Lanka during its war with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and for support extended at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Janjua, while assuring continued backing for Sri Lanka, had pledged that economic assistance would be expanded to the livestock and milk production sectors as well.

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