Saarc foreign ministers meet to fine-tune Kathmandu declaration

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Nov 25, 2014 17:05 IST

Nearly three decades after it came into being, Saarc, the premier regional body of South Asia, is trying to find out ways to stay relevant in a more globalised, inter-connected and inter-dependent world.

Foreign ministers of all eight member states began meeting in Kathmandu on Tuesday morning to fine tune the Kathmandu Declaration and focus on more connectivity and cooperation.

"We need to inject new dynamism in the Saarc process so that it can deliver tangible outcomes at a faster pace," Nepal's foreign minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey told the 36th session of Saarc council of ministers.

The session began with Duniya Maumoon, the foreign affairs minister of Maldives, handing over the chair of the session to her Nepali counterpart, the leader of the Nepali delegation to the session.

Foreign and external affairs ministers of all member states are taking part in the session. The Indian delegation is being led by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

In his opening remarks after assuming the chairmanship Pandey remarked there was no alternative to cooperation.

"Saarc needs to be brought closer to the people if this association is to prove its relevance in the eyes of common persons. We must try to inculcate positive feelings about unity and solidarity in the minds of our people," he said.

The foreign ministers would discuss ways to increase cooperation to address poverty, energy deficit, tourism, agriculture, connectivity, terrorism, illegal trafficking of persons, drugs and arms, climate change and natural disasters.

The member countries are discussing agreements on road and rail connectivity and energy cooperation. These will again be discussed by the heads of states and governments when the summit meeting begins on Wednesday.

"Early implementation of these agreements would increase connectivity and accelerate the pace of economic growth," said Pandey.

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