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EBM News

Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotts VK Singh’s speech at Heart of Asia conference in Istanbul

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday boycotted Union Minister V K Singh’s speech at a regional conference on Afghanistan in Turkey in protest over the situation in Kashmir, according to a media report.

Qureshi rose in his seat and left the hall as soon as Union Minister of State Road Transport and Highways Gen (Retd) V K Singh started his speech at the 8th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Istanbul, the Express Tribune reported.

Qureshi told the media in Turkey that he boycotted the Indian minister’s speech in protest over the situation in Kashmir, the daily said.

Pakistan’ Foreign Office has not commented on the reported boycott by Qureshi.

The 8th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process – which seeks to promote peace in Afghanistan – was convened on Monday at Dolmabahce Palace under ‘Peace, Partnership, Prosperity’ theme.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the conference.

In September, Qureshi boycotted External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s opening statement at the meeting of the SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers, saying his country will not engage with India “until and unless” it lifts the “siege” in Kashmir.

The meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session started in Qureshi’s absence.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have spiked since India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August.

India’s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian ambassador.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue after India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, but New Delhi has asserted the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”.