Kathmandu, July 25:

Caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is expected to represent Nepal in the 15th SAARC Summit to be held in Colombo on August 2-3, foreign secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya said today.

Koirala will head the Nepali delegation as a new government is yet to be formed, Acharya told an interaction in Kathmandu.

“It would make no difference even if the caretaker government attends the Summit since the by-laws and charters of the SAARC agenda were agreed upon three months ago,” said Acharya.”

He maintained that SAARC’s agendas were more important than who attended the summit.

Speaking at the same programme, Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood said that SAARC was often criticised for failing to meet with regional economic cooperation mechanisms elsewhere.

“It may be correct that SAARC may not have matched the expectations of the people of South Asia,” said Sood. “More could have been done and the pace has been accelerated.”

Sood said India took the initiative during its chairmanship last year and announced its contribution of $138 million to be circulated to specific projects undertaken in priority areas. The SAARC Development Fund -- a mechanism set up to fund development projects in key areas such as maternal health and childcare, empowerment of women and capacity building -- would be operationalised at the 15th Summit.

Sood said India would extend to its SAARC partners the telemedicine, tele-education, solar electrification and others projects in a phase-wise manner through appropriate SAARC mechanisms.

Pakistani Ambassador Syed Abrar Hussain said SAARC is an economic forum where the region’s social issues can be addressed.

“Terrorism in Sri Lanka, Afghanisthan, Pakistan and India is deplorable,” said Hussain. “Since there is a mechanism in SAARC, we can overcome trust deficiencies, encourage the spirit of compromise and combat terrorism jointly.”

Heads of governments and states of the eight South Asian countries will take up issues including the implementation of the SAARC Regional Multimodal Transport Study, operationalisation of the SAARC Development Fund, implementation of SAFTA, trade facilitation agreements and measures, poverty alleviation, and energy issues.