India Wants Summit Postponed
Nov. 04, 1999
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ India on Thursday asked to defer a seven-nation regional summit following the military takeover in Pakistan, but Islamabad called the move interference in its domestic affairs.
The Foreign Ministry said India sought a deferral of the meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, scheduled for Nov. 26-28 in Katmandu, Nepal, because of the ``concern and disquiet'' over the coup.
The postponement of the summit would avoid a potentially awkward meeting between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan's new military ruler, General Pervaiz Musharraf, who ousted the civilian government in a bloodless coup Oct. 12.
In a statement issued in Islamabad, the military government opposed any postponement, saying India is interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan _ a violation of the principles of the organization.
Musharraf is seen in India as the man who orchestrated the infiltration this summer of hundreds of militiamen and Pakistan army troops into Indian-held Kashmir near the town of Kargil.
More than 1,000 combatants were killed during the 11-week conflict, the worst fighting in this region since the 1971 war over the creation of Bangladesh.
The seven heads of government or state of SAARC meet annually, primarily to discuss trade issues.
But the sidelines of these summits often are venues for personal contact and provide opportunities to break the ice between leaders of feuding countries.
The organization's charter allows the summit to be postponed if any member requests it. Two summits have been called off in the organization's 14-year history, in 1990 and 1992.
SAARC is comprised of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.