India seeks observers' guidelines at SAARC | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India seeks observers' guidelines at SAARC

delhi Updated: Nov 04, 2011 00:11 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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In an effort to preempt big powers from using the SAARC forum to play games in the South Asia region as observers at its summit meetings, India wants well-defined guidelines for the roles observers can play in the affairs of the eight-nation group.

Foreign ministers of member-nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation will discuss the matter ahead of the summit meeting in the Maldives next week, which will be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

SAARC currently has nine observers, including China, USA, European Union and Iran but the three-year moratorium on adding more observers ends this year.

"New Delhi feels that observers with diverse interests pursuing their respective economic and strategic agendas does not augur well either for India or the region," an official told HT.

At the same time, India does not want to send out any message that many observers - with whom India has excellent bilateral relations - should not play a supportive role in SAARC affairs.

Prominent among countries seeking observer status at SAARC summits are Turkey and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Since the 14th SAARC summit in New Delhi in 2007, observers have been invited to participate in the opening and closing sessions of the gatherings.

As trade and economic linkages emerge as a focus area of the summit, Prime Minister Singh is set to announce new concession for least developed countries in the grouping for capacity building, official sources said.

The Prime Minister will be in the Maldives for the summit from November 9-12.