SAARC committee meeting kicks off

Kathmandu, December 19

The 57th session of the Programming Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation commenced at the SAARC Secretariat here today.

Comprising heads of SAARC divisions from the ministries of foreign/external affairs or national focal points of SAARC member states, the Programming Committee is a Charter Body of the SAARC.

Addressing the inaugural session, Shanker Das Bairagi Foreign Secretary of Nepal and Chairman of the SAARC Standing Committee said, “SAARC has become well networked, widely recognised and established regional body during its 35 years of operation.” He also highlighted the importance of SAARC for promoting welfare of the people of South Asia and the need to further reinvigorate it to address challenges while reaping benefits from opportunities.

Bairagi said cost of non-cooperation was enormous and that regional cooperation in South Asia was not a choice, but a compulsion.  “Regional cooperation is one of the priorities of Nepal’s foreign policy.

As a founding member and current Chair, Nepal’s commitment to the principles and objectives of SAARC is unflinching,” he added. Bairagi hoped that the SAARC member states would reach consensus to convene its 19th summit at an early date.

Amjad Hussain B Sial, Secretary General of SAARC briefly reviewed the progress made by SAARC in the current fiscal year. “Drawing satisfaction from the progress we have made this year we should continue to work hard to achieve the coveted objectives enshrined in the SAARC Charter, as well as the goal of South Asian Economic Union, as envisioned by our leaders,” he said.

He further said, “The raison d’etre for creation of SAARC is to promote welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life through accelerated social progress and economic development. It is of utmost importance to regularly convene the meetings of the Charter bodies at all levels.” Stating that summits provide renewed impetus to SAARC, he hoped that a consensus will be reached soon among the member states to convene the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad.

Convened under the chairmanship of Ram Prasad Subedi joint secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, the Committee is to review progress of regional cooperation in a number of priority areas of the SAARC.

Besides considering the SAARC Calendar of Activities for 2020, the committee will review matters relating to the SAARC Secretariat, specialized bodies and regional centres, including their budget and calendar of activities for 2020. The two-day session of the Programming Committee also brings together the heads of SAARC specialized bodies and SAARC regional centres. The Programming Committee last met at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu in December-2018, said a press release issued by the SAARC Secretariat.