FM Arun Jaitley likely to give SAARC meet in Pakistan a miss; PM Modi to take final call

NEW DELHI: Despite reports from Pakistan that he would be accorded a ‘warm welcome’ if he participates in the SAARC ministerial conference in Islamabad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to attend the meet, later this month.

According to sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be taking a final if Jaitley should attend the meet.​

However, ANI reported that Jaitley will not be attending the SAARC Finance Ministers’ conference scheduled to take place in Pakistan.

It further added that the Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das will represent India at the two-day event to be hosted in Islamabad from August 25-26.​ Earlier, Jaitley was scheduled to travel to Islamabad for the meet.

Pakistan’s Finance Ministry had said that they will play a ‘good host’ and avoid a repetition of the tense atmosphere that prevailed during Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s recent visit and accord a ‘warm welcome’ to Jaitley.

The ministerial conference comes in the shadow of Singh’s visit to Islamabad earlier this month where barbs were exchanged between Singh and Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, complete with a tense and uneasy handshake.

The meetings are taking place ahead of the SAARC Summit to be held in November in Islamabad.

“All SAARC countries have a lot of potential to develop together utilising each other’s potentials and energies. The cooperation is necessary in promoting the welfare and improving the quality of life of the people of the region,” said Pakistan finance minister Ishaq Dar.

“The upcoming conference is an important event in this regard,” he added.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.