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SAARC Foreign Ministers Meet
Feb 27, 2014

The 35th session of the SAARC Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held recently in Male, capital of the Maldives. SAARC has traversed a significant distance since it came into being in 1985. The meeting of the Council of Ministers was preceded by the 40th session of the Standing Committee, 6th special session of the Standing Committee and 45th session of the Programming Committee.

During the meeting, agendas related to maintaining relations with observer nations, discussion over granting observer status to Russia and Turkey, issue of regional connectivity, approval of new SAARC Secretary General from Nepal and the decision on cultural ties with China and South Korea were discussed.

Russia and Turkey had applied for the observer status in SAARC.  Member states were in favour of a moratorium on granting new observer status. The US, China, Iran, South Korea, European Union, Australia, Japan, Mauritius and Myanmar are the observers.

The meeting also discussed the Comprehensive Study on Strengthening SAARC mechanisms, the first ever conducted by the secretariat, including Regional Centres and specialised bodies.

India’s vision of SAARC is underpinned by historical ties, as a region of friendship, development and shared prosperity remains unchanged. To bring this vision to fruition there is need to continue to focus on removing the barriers, physical or otherwise, that stand in the way.

The Comprehensive Study to rationalize, strengthen and streamline SAARC institutions and mechanisms therefore comes at an opportune time. This study is a useful input into India’s efforts to strengthen the core areas of SAARC and should help make decisions to bring these areas into greater focus by shedding peripheral or ineffective mechanisms and processes.

Nepal officially proposed to host the 18th SAARC Summit in November this year in Kathmandu. This is the third time that Nepal will be hosting the SAARC Summit. The meeting formally approved Nepal's nomination of Arjun Bahadur Thapa, former foreign secretary, as the 12th Secretary-General of SAARC for a period of three years commencing from March 1, 2014. The incumbent Secretary-General from Maldives, Ahmed Saleem Ais, is retiring at end of this month after completion of his tenure.


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