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Observers Get Stronger Role in SAARC Despite India's Opposition
Dec 04, 2014

Even as India reiterated that there was no proposal for an expansion of SAARC, the Kathmandu Declaration had enough for nations seeking greater engagement with Observer countries including China.  Unlike the Addu Declaration at the last SAARC summit in Maldives in 2011, the Kathmandu Declaration clearly laid out a roadmap for productive cooperation between member-states and Observers.

In furtherance of earlier decisions on establishing dialogue partnership with states outside the region, the leaders appreciated the study undertaken by the SAARC secretariat to review and analyze the engagement with the existing Observers to establish dialogue partnership. The Addu Declaration had sought to undertake a comprehensive review of all matters relating to SAARC's engagement with Observers, including the question of dialogue partnership.

The Leaders directed the Programming Committee to engage the SAARC Observers into productive, demand-driven and objective project-based cooperation in priority areas as identified by the member-states.

Pakistan had sought an elevation in status for both China and South Korea at the summit but India opposed it saying SAARC needed to be strengthened first before undertaking any horizontal expansion. In his SAARC address, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa said greater engagement with Observers was important for capacity building initiatives.

 


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