SAARC foreign minister level meet kicks off in Lake City amid fanfare

Pokhara, March 14

The foreign minister level meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation kicked off in the Lake City today.

On the first day of the four-day meet, a meeting of Joint Secretary Level programme committee started. This is the 52nd meeting of the Programme Committee.

Mani Prasad Bhattarai, joint-secretary and SAARC Division Chief at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the preliminary phase of the deliberation was held today and they would reach a conclusion after intense discussion tomorrow.

At the press meet organised today evening, Joint-secretary Bhattarai said that chiefs of the South Asian University, SAARC Development Fund, SAARC Arbitration Council, and South Asian Regional Standard Organisation presented their reports at today’s meet.

“A serious and comprehensive discussion was held today but I cannot make it public before the committee takes a decision,” Bhattarai said.

After the Programme Committee approves, the proposal will be tabled at the meeting of the SAARC Standing Committee. After the Standing Committee endorses the report, it will become authentic.

Today’s meeting dwelt on various issues including collaboration in energy generation and making SAARC Economic Union in 15 years.

The last meeting had decided to strengthen the SAARC Secretariat to constitute a mechanism to control terrorism, extremism, and religious fundamentalism in the region.

The SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu last year had decided to stress on ending poverty and famine and controlling terrorism, cross-border crime and smuggling of drugs.

Of those issues, good work has been done in some areas, while majority of the issues have been overshadowed.

Similarly, foreign ministers from six SAARC member countries are attending the meeting scheduled for March 17.

Foreign Ministry officials said that Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser will be attending the minister level meet.

On the first and second day of the meeting, the Joint-secretary Level Programme Committee will convene while the Secretary Level Permanent Committee will meet on the third day.

The foreign minister level meet will take place on the last day. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is slated to inaugurate the minister level meet.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is landing in Kathmandu on March 16.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa, India’s External Affairs Minister Swaraj, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mohammad Ali, Maldives’ Foreign Minister Dunaya Maumun, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samarawera, Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji, Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister

Hikmat Khalid Karjai and Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Ajij are participating in the meeting.