SAARC foreign secys begin deliberations in Kathmandu

Staff Correspondent

The foreign secretaries of the SAARC countries on Sunday began their two-day deliberations in Kathmandu on the agenda of the 18th SAARC summit to be held on November 26-27.Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque is leading the Bangladesh team to the SAARC standing committee meeting.SAARC secretary general Arjun Bahadur Thapa told Nepalese news agency RSS that the meeting started discussions on how to strengthen the SAARC secretariat among other issues.Thapa said at present the secretary general could only identify the regional and sub-regional programmes but has no authority to monitor, coordinate and implement those programmes.Earlier on Saturday, a meeting of SAARC programming committee comprising high officials of the member states recommended closing three different centres relating to Archiving, Information and Human Resources. The offices of these centres are in Nepal, Pakistan and India respectively.
The programming committee meeting also recommended merging the Forest Management, Disaster Management, the Coastal Areas Management and Climate Change Research Centre into Environment and Disaster Management Committee.Presently, there are 11 active centers in the SAARC forum. The Programming Committee meeting also recommended the SAARC Calendar of activities for 2015.At the secretary-level meeting of SAARC standing committee, secretary general Thapa was scheduled to present his periodic report on SAARC and the SAARC member states will give their feedback on it.The meeting will also discuss whether to resume the process of expansion of the size of SAARC observers. The SAARC has presently nine observers including the European Union, Japan and China.Drafts have been prepared for agreements on mutual energy assistance, railway and road transport during the 18th Summit. The Standing Committee meeting will be followed by a ministerial-level meeting on November 25.

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