Nepal has picked Pokhara as the venue for hosting the ‘Saarc Mini Summit on March 17′.
The government had also planned to host the 18th Saarc Summit in the lake city but it did not materialise due to logistical reasons. The summit was held in Kathmandu in November 2014.
The Cabinet gave its go-ahead to the Foreign Ministry to host the summit in Pokhara after a team of senior officers and security officials toured the western regional headquarters for a feasibility study. The mini summit will be attended by foreign ministers of Saarc member states – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Meetings of the Saarc Standing Committee at the foreign secretary-level and Programming Committee at the joint secretary-level will precede the foreign ministers’ meeting on March 14 and March 15.
Nepal being the current chair of the regional bloc, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa will chair the foreign ministers’ meet. ‘Almost all regional issues will be discussed,’ said Tara Pokhrel, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry.
The meeting, also known as an inter-summit of the regional grouping, is generally held half-way between two Saarc summits.
Pakistan is set to host the 19th summit in November. The Pokhara meeting will review the progress in the Saarc process and set the tone for the upcoming summit.
The March summit will also instruct senior officials to implement earlier Saarc declarations. The meeting would dwell upon the 36-point Kathmandu Declaration that covers areas including trade, commerce, investment, combating terrorism, connectivity, energy cooperation, labour and migration issues.
The member states are yet to agree on the draft of Saarc agreement on promotion and protection of investments, regional agreement on motor vehicles and regional agreement on railways. – Kathmandu Post