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EU for observer status in SAARC

EU is likely to place a formal request before the SAARC Council of Ministers when they meet in July.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2006 14:12 IST

The European Union has expressed an interest in joining the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as an observer, the Bangladesh foreign ministry said on Friday.

According to ministry sources, the EU is likely to place a formal request before the SAARC Council of Ministers when they meet in July.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan conveyed this information to Neena Gill, the chairperson of the EU parliamentary delegation for South Asia and SAARC while in Brussels.

Khan, who is now on a weeklong tour of Europe, visited Brussels on April 26 and 27, and met a group of European Parliament members at an interactive meeting at the European Parliament on April 27.

At the 13th SAARC summit held in Dhaka, Afghanistan has been accepted as the eighth member of the regional forum, while Japan and China have been granted observer status.

The modalities for including the new member and observers was finalised at a SAARC Standing Committee meeting earlier this month.

It decided that Afghanistan would attend the 14th SAARC summit in New Delhi as a member, while Japan and China would attend as observers.

Of late, several countries have shown an interest in being associated with SAARC.

The United States of America and the Democratic Republic of Korea have formally requested for observer status.

During his Brussels visit, Morshed Khan also touched upon the developments in the South Asian region.

He also highlighted the achievements and progress of Bangladesh in various socio-economic fields.

The European Parliament congratulated Bangladesh for its successful handling of suspect militant activities.

Morshed said that his government has initiated a multi-pronged awareness campaign on the issue of terrorism and militancy, explaining the dangers of such activity to the long-term well being of society.

First Published: Apr 29, 2006 12:47 IST