Maldives supports Saarc summit in Islamabad

MALE: Pakistan and the Maldives have agreed to reconvene a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in Islamabad.

At the conclusion of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three-day official visit to the Maldives on Thursday, Sartaj Aziz, the premier’s adviser on foreign affairs, said the leaders of the two countries talked about convening the Saarc summit in Pakistan.

According to Mr Aziz, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Mr Sharif discussed the future of Saarc and agreed to work together to turn the association into a vibrant organisation.

He pointed out that last year India boycotted the Saarc summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad. The Maldives did not support the Indian decision but the event had to be cancelled after all.

Meanwhile, a joint communiqué issued simultaneously in Islamabad and Male said Mr Sharif and Mr Gayoom agreed to further promote cooperation between their two countries including through Saarc.

“Pakistan and Maldives have close cooperation and coordination … at regional and international forums on issues of mutual importance,” the statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

The two leaders also agreed to improve trade relations between their countries.

President Gayoom also praised Pakistan’s efforts in combating terrorism and violent extremism. Prime Minister Sharif had undertaken the visit at the invitation of President Gayoom and participated in the 52nd Independence Day celebrations of the Maldives.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2017

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