23 November, Kathmandu. The 41st session of the Standing Committee of the SAARC began here today, in the lead up to the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit that Nepal is hosting on 26-27 November.
Delegations led by Foreign Secretary of all the eight member states of SAARC are taking part in the meeting that is taking place at Hotel Soaltee since this morning.
The two-day meeting will ratify the agenda endorsed by the Programming Committee of the Joint-Secretary-level that met on Saturday. It will also discuss the state of implementation of the earlier decisions taken by the Standing Committee.
In the meeting, SAARC General Secretary Arjun Bahadur Thapa will present analytical views about SAARC progress so far and its future course of action. Besides, the meeting is expected to review significant issues for mutual assistance like poverty alleviation, information technology and energy promotion.
SAARC countries’ relations with the nine observer countries and their presence in the SAARC forum are also the agenda of discussion in the meeting, according to Acting Secretary (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Shankardas Bairagi.
The meeting will focus on how to make the SAARC commitments and programmes result-oriented and take their outcomes to the people, Acting Secretary Bairagi said.
Maximum efforts will be made to make the slogan for the 18th SAARC Summit ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’ meaningful. The meeting will dwell upon the issues of railway, road and energy assistance which have been prepared for singing in the Standing Committee meeting. The meeting will review the implementation of past declarations amd focus on making the presence of SAARC more effective and dynamic.
Acting Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi is leading the Nepali delegation while the delegation of Afghanistan is led by Deputy Director for Regional Cooperation Seddiq Rasuli, the Bangladesi delegation by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and of Bhutan by Foreign Secretary Yeshey Dorji.
Likewise, the Indian delegation will be led by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and of the Maldives by Foreign Secretary Ali Naseer Mohamed.
The Pakistani delegation is led by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and of Sri Lanka by Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs Ms Kshenuka Senewiratne.
The meeting is receiving suggestions from the SAARC member countries as the host country Nepal had sent the preliminary draft of the declaration to the member countries.
The meeting is scheduled to include the issues to be presented in the summit. The subjects not finalized by the standing committee meeting would be forwarded to the SAARC Council of Ministers and the Kathmandu Declaration would be finalized on the basis of endorsement made by SAARC Council of Ministers.
The Heads of the Government or State would prepare their views towards the SAARC on the basis of the declaration, it is learnt.
The meeting of the Programming Committee on Saturday discussed on closing down some regional centres and merging some others centres of SAARC. A total of 11 centres are presently active under the SAARC.
The Committee also discussed about the annual calendar of SAARC activities of 2015 and implementation situation of recommendations made by previous meetings.
This is the third time Nepal is hosting the SAARC Summit. Nepal is assuming chairmanship of SAARC summit. The 18th SAARC Summit is going to be held under the slogan “Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity.” RSS