India, Pakistan competing to host Saarc Environment Centre

  • 37th Saarc Ministerial Meet
- Post Report, Pokhara (Kaski)

Mar 17, 2016-

India and Pakistan are racing to host the Saarc Environment and Disaster Management Center, a new body to look into the environment and disaster related issues in the region.

During the ongoing meeting of 37th Saarc Council of Ministers that is underway in Pokhara, some 200 km west from Kathmandu, the two South Asian giants have laid claims to host the headquarters of the newly proposed body.

Climate change, degradation of environment and recurring various types of natural disasters have taken a toll in the region and member states are less prepared to combat these menace. With this realisation, the member states have agreed to set up such centre to meet the challenges in a professional manner.

What can be confirm is that other interested member states have dropped their claims over hosting the regional body, said two diplomats familiar to the development, adding that there can be breakthrough only when one of the countries backs off.

Member states had agreed to merge Saarc Disaster Management Cente, Saarc Forest Management Centre, Coastal Area Management Centre and Environment Centre into environment and disaster management centre.

After programming committee meeting of joint secretary level, foreign secretary level meeting of standing committee level could not make headway, the issue has now landed at the ministerial level meeting.

India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh expressed their desire to host the headquarters but during the several rounds of negotiations, Bhutan and Bangladesh have withdrawn their claims, leaving India and Pakistan in the race.

Sources claimed that the issue figured in a brief meeting between Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India, and Foreign Relations Adviser to the Pakistani PM, Sartar Aziz, on Thursday morning during a breakfast meeting hosted by Nepal's Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa.

The most anticipated meeting between Sushma and Aziz is expected to take place by this evening that is likely to thaw the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Published: 17-03-2016 17:39

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