Sri Lanka slams Islamabad, pulls out of SAARC summit

The SAARC summit can take place only when leaders of all member countries are present

Sri Lanka slams Islamabad, pulls out of SAARC summit

After  Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan, Sri Lanka on Friday expressed its unwillingness to attend the upcoming Saarc Summit in Islamabad.

The island nation said the prevailing environment in the region is not conducive for holding the summit.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo, in a statement, said that the Saarc Charter requires that decisions at all levels are taken on the basis of unanimity, and this applies to the convening of meetings of Heads of State or Government of SAARC Member States as well.

"Peace and security are essential elements for the success of meaningful regional cooperation for the benefit of the people of South Asia. As a founding member of Saarc, committed to regional cooperation, Sri Lanka hopes that the steps required to ensuring our region's peace and security will be taken to create an environment that is conducive for the pursuit of regional cooperation," the statement reads.

Sri Lanka condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stresses in this regard, the need to deal with the issue of terrorism in the region in a decisive manner, it added.

Sri Lanka's move comes three days after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan wrote to Nepal the current Chair of Saarc, conveying they are pulling out of the Saarc Summit, citing rising terrorism in the region.

After Sri Lanka's exit, five of the eight-member South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation have pulled out of the summit.

India, the largest member of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), had announced its decision to pull out from the summit, hours after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned to South Block and handed over Pakistan's "proof of cross-border origin" of the September 18 Uri terror attack, wherein 18 Indian soldiers were killed Pakistani militants.

Following the attack, India is also planning to revoke the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan in trade, in another punishing measure.

(With Agencies inputs)