Pakistan absent from SAARC energy ministers' meet

Pakistan was conspicuously absent from a SAARC energy ministers' meeting here on Friday, where discussions took place on an integrated power transmission grid between India and its neighbouring countries.

New Delhi: Pakistan was conspicuously absent from a SAARC energy ministers' meeting here on Friday, where discussions took place on an integrated power transmission grid between India and its neighbouring countries.

Pakistan was absent from the meet against the backdrop of its ceasefire violations at the border.

"This invitation is given by the Secretary General SAARC, it is not our invitation. We are the host country. Secretary General must have invited Pakistan," Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters when asked about representation from Pakistan.

South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) held a two-day meet here which concluded today.

Goyal said initial discussions have started for setting up an integrated power transmission grid connecting India with its neighbouring nations including Bhutan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

"Preliminary discussions have started and we are yet to draw up full fledged plans on the proposed grid," he said.

Through the SAARC grid, excess production of power in one region can easily be used to meet deficit elsewhere.

He said that hydroelectric power generated in North East India could be transported via Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, on to Afghanistan, or offshore wind projects could be set up in Sri Lanka's coastal borders to power Pakistan or Nepal.

Goyal said this project will not only strengthen the economic ties among the SAARC nations but also deepens the people to people relationship.

SAARC is a robust market but constraints are primarily on the supply side as there are pockets where deficits persist, Goyal said. 

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