Disappointing absence of Saudi Arabia and Egypt at Srinagar Meeting in G20
Skipping event China’s loss, says Union Minister
If South Block has a sense of satisfaction for almost the entire G20 block as well as invited countries visiting Srinagar for a G20 working group meeting, there is also a feeling of being let down after Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia joined expected absentees China and Turkey in staying away from Kashmir.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari went to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and in an address to the Legislative Assembly, termed the G20 meet illegal and an attempt by India to seek legitimacy over its control of the disputed region. All heavyweights in G20, barring China, turned up for the Srinagar meeting. They included the US, the UK, Germany, France, Australia, Brazil, Russia, Japan and Argentina.
But talk was also about the missing countries despite efforts to have them send diplomatic staff from Delhi as a last resort. Egypt’s absence was especially intriguing as its, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, was the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had travelled to Cairo in an effort to evoke the north African country’s interest in the indigenously made Tejas fighters.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is the real power behind the throne, was not expected to absent itself, especially in view of the MEA’s claim of a special chemistry between him and PM Modi. Saudi Arabia also has great influence over the Organisation of Islamic Countries, which had given a call for the boycott of the G20 working group meeting in Srinagar.
Not attending the G20 meeting in Srinagar is China’s loss and does not make any difference to India, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday.
Delegates of all G20 countries, barring China, arrived in Srinagar on Monday to attend the third G20 tourism working group meeting. “The fact that China is not attending the meeting does not make any difference. It is China’s loss, not India’s,” Singh said on the sidelines of the G20 meet here. Asked if Beijing’s abstention was linked to the eastern Ladakh border standoff, Singh said the Ministry of External Affairs would take a call on that.