India has pulled out of a key regional conference on sustainable development which is being held in Pakistan in the latest sign of heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, a media report said today.
Apart from India, Bangladesh and Iran have also pulled out of the three-day session of the Governing Council of the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT), which kicked off in Islamabad on Monday, a report by The Express Tribune said.
The daily reported that officials of Ministry of Science and Technology initially confirmed New Delhi's participation in the conference but later announced India's decision to pull out.
"Just hours before the meeting was due to start, the Indian delegation cancelled their trip saying that their head delegate had contracted food poisoning," the official said.
India had earlier in November boycotted the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that was to be held in Islamabad.
It is believed that New Delhi's decision is part of its efforts to isolate Pakistan internationally by staying away from such multilateral engagements hosted by Islamabad, reports in the Pakistani media said.
The Ministry of Science and Technology is hosting the meeting of the 12th Governing Council of APCTT.
According to sources, all of the 14 member countries of APCTT were invited, but India, Bangladesh and Iran decided not to attend the meeting.
The governing council, which meets once a year, advises on the future and reviews the working of the centre located in India under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The countries attending the meeting are China, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The meeting will approve projects to be undertaken in 2017. Out of the total five projects, India has submitted one titled 'Feed the Future India'.
The project is aimed at enhancing food security in selected least-developed countries through the establishment of an agricultural innovation accelerator platform in India with USAID funding of USD 1.5 million.
The APCTT is a specialised regional Institute of the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UN-ESCAP), based in New Delhi and a team from India have come to Islamabad to look after all the management related issues for the three-day conference.