Kathmandu meet to set tone for 19th Saarc Summit

- SARIN GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Sep 19, 2016-

Nepal is holding a conference of South Asian countries in the Capital in the last week of September as a preparatory meeting for the 19th Saarc Summit to be held in Pakistan later in the year.

The Legislature-Parliament’s International Relations and Labour Committee is holding a two-day meeting on September 29-30 with the theme ‘Regional Conference on Saarc Effectiveness’ in Kathmandu. The committee, which has sent out invitations to former heads of states of Saarc countries, believes that the conference can contribute to close cooperation among the member countries and play an instrumental role to further collaboration in the region.

Former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will convene the conference in which chair of the Parliamentary Committee of all Saarc member countries and experts are said to participate. Among others, organisers say, former prime ministers of both India and Pakistan have been invited. Confirming the participation of former Pakistani prime minister Chaudhry Sujaat Hussain in the event, Under-secretary at the Legislature-Parliament Secretariat Jhalak Sapkota said: “Other preparations are also on a war footing. We look to institutionalise the enthusiasm created by Saarc activities in the region.” 

Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh has also been invited, but is yet to confirm his participation. According to former PM Nepal’s aide, the UML leader is in constant touch with the former Indian PM regarding the conference.“They have held a couple of rounds of talks already. He [Singh] has neither accepted the proposal nor rejected it. Talks are nevertheless positive.”

The organisers said the meeting will review the past three decades of Saarc, with a focus on four areas: Fostering Trust and Understanding; Deepening Integration through Enhanced Connectivity; Strengthening Institutional Mechanism and Economic Cooperation.

Dipu Moni, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry of foreign affairs of Bangladesh and Saman Kelegama, executive director of the Institute of Policy Studies (Sri Lanka), among others, are also attending the two-day event. Mahendra Lama, a member of the Eminent Persons Group, which comprises of diplomats from both Nepal and India has agreed to review a gamut of bilateral issues including the treaties and agreements since the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, has also confirmed his participation.

Published: 19-09-2016 07:40

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