By Anil Giri
Kathmandu, Nov 2:
With all eyes on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s take on the future of South Asia, the 18th Saarc Summit commenced here Wednesday morning.
Apart from host Nepal, all seven heads of state and government are in Kathmandu to attend the summit. As chair of Saarc, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul opened the summit and handed over the responsibility of the chair of the regional bloc to Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
This is the third time Nepal is organising the summit — first in 1987 and then again in 2002.
Ahead of the summit, three meetings at foreign ministers’, foreign secretaries’ and joint secretaries’ levels decided to scrap three Saarc regional centres and merge four others into one.
It also decided to improve agricultural productivity, food and nutritional security, enhance cooperation on trade, economy, finance, investment, energy, connectivity, health, education and agriculture and bring about project-based engagement of the Saarc observers.
It decided to accord body status to the South Asian Women’s Development Forum and upgrade the Saarc Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre laboratory to a Supranational Laboratory as the agenda for the summit.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay are attending the summit.
(Anil Giri can be contacted at [email protected])