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SAARC Council of Ministers’ meeting begins

SAARC Summit review meeting held  
SAARC Summit review meeting held  

Kathmandu,25 Nov 2014:  A meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers has begun at Hotel Soaltee in the lead up to the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit that Nepal is hosting on 26 and 27 November today.

Most of the Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs of the SAARC member countries arrived here on Monday to take part in the 36th meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The Foreign/External Affairs Ministers from SAARC member countries are leading their respective delegations to the SAARC Council of Ministers’ meeting.

According to the SAARC practice, the Meeting was opened by Ms. Dunya Maumoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives, Chair of the SAARC Council of Ministers and the Leader of the Delegation from the Maldives.

Similarly, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal and the leader of the Nepalese delegation, was elected Chairman of the Council.

The meeting is expected to deliberate on a number of issues under SAARC areas of cooperation like reports related to poverty alleviation and achievements of SAARC development, regional structure for nutrition, work procedure for sanitation and future step for economic union.

The meeting was delayed as the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka Peiris arrived with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa later than the scheduled time.

Speaking in the meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said though the SAARC has not achieved the expected progress; it has developed mutual understanding and cooperation among the member states and this summit will be success in this regard.

He pointed out the need of making joint efforts in the fight against common problems of the poverty, hunger, terrorism, human trafficking.

Minister Pandey further reiterated for making common efforts to extend trade activities in the region, strengthening people to people relations, utilizing the maximum possibility of energy sectors and restructuring the SAARC.

He said common efforts is needed to alleviate the poverty in the region as the large number of people live in the region in comparison to other such regional organizations.

SAARC Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa also presented a periodical analytical report in the meeting.

The earlier meeting of the Standing Committee, comprising the Foreign Secretaries of the SAARC member countries, had also considered relocating the Kathmandu-based SAARC Secretariat. However, the relocation place is under the discussion.

The Standing Committee meeting, after the recommendation of the programming committee, has decided to phase out three of the SAARC regional centres, namely, the Nepal based SAARC Information Centre, the India based SAARC Documentation Centre and Pakistan based SAARC Human Resources Development Centre.

Similarly, the Committee’s meeting decided to merge four regional centres with the similar mandates into a new regional centre named SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre.

The centres that are going to be merged into one are the SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre (Maldives), SAARC Meteorological Investigation Centre (Bangladesh), the SAARC Forestry Centre (Bhutan) and SAARC Disaster Management Centre (India), according to the Acting Foreign Secretary of Nepal, Shanker Das Bairagi.

The Committee’s meeting also underscored the effective implementation of the previous SAARC’s declarations, its activities and overall process. It also considered ways and means to make SAARC more effective and result-oriented.

As per the SAARC practice, the preceding meetings to the SAARC Summit are the Programming Committee’s meeting, the Standing Committee’s meeting and meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The meeting of the Council of Ministers of all the SAARC member nations is taking place today at the Soaltee Hotel in Kathmandu.

The Programming Committee, comprising the Joint Secretaries have recently concluded on Saturday whereas the two-day Standing Committee’s meeting concluded Monday.

Today’s meeting of the Council of Ministers will be looking into the recommendations endorsed by its preceding meeting and put forward the agendas to be considered by the Heads of State and Governments during the 18th SAARC Summit.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Heads of the State or Government of the SAARC member countries will arrive Kathmandu by this evening to take part in the Summit that is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday with a theme ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity.’

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