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|June 19, 1998||
ASEAN heeds India's objections, keeps Pak out of meeting
The ASEAN regional forum has decided not to invite Pakistan to a ministerial conference in Manila next month following India's objections, Philippine foreign affairs secretary Dominigo Siazon has said.
Siazon, who is chairman of ASEAN, said Minister of State for External Affairs Vasundhara Raje had conveyed New Delhi's rejection of Pakistan's participation in the conference next month. Some other countries were also opposed to Pakistan's participation even as a guest, he added.
Siazon said Raje told him that the problem is ''essentially between India and Pakistan and that they should be given the opportunity and ample time to work on this bilateral problem and hopefully present a common solution''.
Siazon said he explained to Raje the forum's proposal to include Pakistan in the meeting to prevent a "one-sided'' discussion since India is already a member.
Siazon said Raje told him that a meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries is being arranged in the near future and that mediation by the forum before that meeting is "premature.''
"If that is the case then maybe I will not insist on Pakistan's participation either as an ad hoc member or observer or guest,'' Siazon said he told Raje.
Siazon said Raje turned down the proposal and even asked him to delete any mention of the two countries' names in discussions on the nuclear issue.
In an ASEAN meeting in Manila in May, India successfully lobbied against a proposal for a statement condemning India's nuclear tests.
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