Kathmandu, February 4
The SAARC inter-summit is most likely to be hosted in Pokhara, as a technical assessment carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given positive inputs regarding convening the regional gathering in the city.
“We are working with the spirit of convening the event in Pokhara,” Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi told The Himalayan Times. “What we are doing now is assessing the technical and logistical viability of the city.”
The inter-summit, also known as SAARC Council of Ministers meeting, is fixed for March 17, whereas the venue has not been confirmed yet.
During the meeting, foreign ministers of all SAARC member-states review a wide range of common issues, including connectivity, development, trade and terrorism. Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa took the initiative to host the ministerial meeting in a place other than the Capital.
The 18th SAARC Summit hosted in Kathmandu in November 2014 itself was earlier planned to be held in Pokhara, but it couldn’t materialise due to technical and logistical gaps.
But as the inter-summit is a comparatively low-key event, technical and logistical gaps can be easily filled.
The meeting will be preceded by meetings of SAARC Programming Committee and Standing Committee on March 14,15 and 16, respectively.
The inter-summit is generally held half-way between the two summits, where foreign ministers review progress made since the last summit and come up with necessary inputs to address the outstanding issues.
An ambitious 36-point Kathmandu-Declaration was announced by the Kathmandu Summit, including regional cooperation in areas of trade, investment, migrant-labour issues as well as tackling terrorism, promoting linkages, connectivity and tourism as well as sharing technologies.
However, most of these decisions have not yet gained any shape.
The Motor Vehicle and Railway Service agreements which were supposed to be finalised within three months of the Kathmandu summit are yet to be decided as some member-states claimed they were yet to clear their internal procedures.
All issues mentioned in the Kathmandu Declaration will be reviewed thoroughly including the launch of a SAARC communication satellite which was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India’s gift to her neighbours.
A version of this article appears in print on February 05, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.