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Saarc meet kicks off in Dhaka

The two-day meet will discuss the formal requests by the US and Korea for observer status.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 17:27 IST

A two-day meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) foreign secretaries will discuss the formal requests of the United States and Korea for observer status in the expanding South Asian bloc.

Bangladesh's Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan will inaugurate the meeting, while Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin will preside over the discussion that comprises senior officials of the foreign ministries of member countries that include India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The 13th Saarc Summit in Dhaka in November last year approved Afghanistan as its new member and China and Japan as observers.

The US and South Korea had also applied for observer status.

The Saarc Foreign Secretaries will hold meeting to review the implementation of decisions earlier taken at the 13th Saarc summit.

The fifth special session of the standing committee comprising foreign secretaries of the SAARC countries will also finalise modalities for admitting Afghanistan as a full-member and ensure that it takes part in the 14th Saarc summit in New Delhi.

The issue of granting China and Japan an observer status will also be taken up.

Afghanistan will join the New Delhi summit as the eighth member of the grouping and China and Japan as observer.

Foreign secretaries from the seven member countries will finalise the necessities and prepare a draft of joint declaration in this regard at the special session and place before the council of ministers' meeting to be held sometime in July this year.

The meeting will also take up issues like eradication of poverty and measures to check terrorism.

The members will also discuss the execution of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) to promote economic and trade cooperation.

The meeting of Indian Foreign Secretary Shayam Saran and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Muhammad Khan will also sideline the discussion.

During their meeting, foreign secretaries of both the nations will review the results of composite dialogue process and emphasise the need for accelerating dialogue process.

First Published: Apr 11, 2006 17:27 IST