SAARC foreign ministers to meet in March

Kathmandu, January 27

Foreign ministers of SAARC countries are meeting in Kathmandu in mid-March.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tara Prasad Pokharel said the meeting of foreign ministers, also known as SAARC Council of Ministers has been scheduled for March 14 to 17.

The foreign ministers’ meeting will be held on March 17, which will be preceded by meetings of SAARC Programming Committee and Standing Committee on March 14-15 and March 16 respectively.

These meetings will set the agenda for the meeting of foreign ministers.

All SAARC member-states Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have confirmed their participation in the meeting. Foreign ministers from all countries, excluding Pakistan, are attending the meeting.

From Pakistan where no one has been appointed as foreign minister Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz will take part in the meeting, according to a SAARC Secretariat source.

The meeting, also known as inter-summit of SAARC, is generally held half-way between the two summits. SAARC summit was last held in Kathmandu in November 2014.

The foreign ministers will review progress made since the last summit and come up with necessary inputs to address issues agreed upon and targets set during the summit.

An ambitious 36-point Kathmandu-Declaration was announced by the Kathmandu summit. This included cooperation in areas of trade, investment, migrant labour issues.

It had also vowed to tackle the scourge of terrorism, promote linkages, connectivity and tourism.

Nevertheless, much of these targets have not been met. The Motor Vehicle and Railway Service agreements, which were supposed to be finalised within three months of the Kathmandu summit, have yet to be ratified by some member-states.

Pokhrel said all issues, including the launching of a SAARC communication satellite, which was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India’s gift to India’s neighbours during the Kathmandu summit, would be reviewed thoroughly.