KATHMANDU, Feb 7: Prime Minister K P Sharma has expressed hopes the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Member States Summit will come up with a consensus to convene the 19th SAARC Summit at an early date.
“The SAARC is an expression of our regional solidarity in South Asia. It has become a common identity for the people of this region,” said PM Oli who visited the SAARC Headquarters in Thamel for the first time on Friday as Prime Minister and SAARC Chair.
“It represents the hope of over 1.7 billion people for this region for accelerated economic growth, social progress and cultural development.”
“We are eagerly looking forward to handing over the Chairmanship. I hope the SAARC Member States will come up with a consensus to convene the 19th SAARC Summit at an early date,” he added.
PM Oli also expressed happiness to host the SAARC Secretariat and SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Center.
“Neighborhood relations and regional cooperation are one of the priorities of our foreign policy. As a founding member and current Chair of SAARC, Nepal strongly believes in regional cooperation in order to promote the collective well-being of the people of South Asia,” he said.
PM Oli also appreciated the Secretary General Amjad Hussain B Sial and his team for facilitating regional cooperation within the SAARC framework and for making meticulous arrangements for receiving him at the Secretariat.
On the occasion, PM Oli planted a Rudraksya (Utrasum bead) tree sapling in the headquarter premises.
“May the Rudrakshya sapling that I planted here at the Secretariat grow to inspire the Governments of South Asia to strengthen the SAARC process for delivering peace, development, prosperity and the greater good of the people of South Asia,” he said.
Secretary General, while welcoming the prime minister, said “We are greatly honored by the prime minister’s momentous visit to the SAARC Secretariat today. I am particularly happy that this is the third visit of a SAARC Head of State or Government during the last two years. Moreover, this is a unique and historic occasion, which brings together the distinguished Chairs of four Charter Bodies of SAARC to the Secretariat at the same time.”
The Secretary General stated that as a founding member of SAARC, Nepal had been playing a very constructive role in its evolution since inception. “The three milestone SAARC Summits hosted and several important initiatives spearheaded by Nepal have contributed enormously toward the SAARC process,” he said.
He also thanked the Government of Nepal for hosting the SAARC Secretariat and SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Center.
The Secretary General stated that the convening of meetings of the Charter Bodies of SAARC, including the Summit, provides renewed impetus to the SAARC process. “In this context, we greatly value the endeavors of the prime minister and the Chair of SAARC for the convening of the 19th Summit in Islamabad.”
Since its establishment in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987, several SAARC Heads of State and Government have visited the Secretariat.
In 2018, the former President of Sri Lanka and the former Prime Minister of Pakistan visited the SAARC Secretariat during their bilateral visits to Nepal.
The SAARC has failed to hold a summit since it was last held in Kathmandu in 2014 due to growing tensions between India and Pakistan.
The 19th SAARC Summit was initially planned to be held in Islamabad, Pakistan from Nov 15 to 19 2016.
But, following an attack on Indian Army brigade headquarters near Uri in Jammu and Kashmir two months before the scheduled date that killed 17 army personnel and left about two dozens injured, India announced it was boycotting the Summit accusing Pakistan’s involvement.
Later, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives also pulled out, resulting in an indefinite postponement.