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Press Release:The Fifty-sixth Session of the Programming Committee of SAARC commenced today in Kathmandu

2018-12-11

The Fifty-sixth Session of the Programming Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) commenced today in Kathmandu. The Programming Committee is a Charter Body of SAARC.

 

Mr. Krishna Prasad Dhakal, Joint Secretary (SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal chaired the meeting. The two-day Session of the Programming Committee brings together Heads of SAARC Divisions (Joint Secretary/Director General) from the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs or National Focal Points of the Member States of SAARC.

 

The Committee will review the current status of regional cooperation in the identified areas. The Committee will also finalize the budgets and Calendars of Activities of the SAARC Secretariat, Specialized Bodies and Regional Centres.

 

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the Fifty-sixth Session of the Programming Committee this morning.

 

In his address, the Secretary General underscored the need to ensure implementation of the activities once agreed to by the Member States, including those at the Ministerial level. Stating that improved intra-regional connectivity is essential to promote economic relations, tourism and people-to-people contacts, he expressed the hope that the three regional Agreements on Motor Vehicles, Railways and Air Services would be concluded soon. He also highlighted the importance of project-based collaboration to bring dividends of regional cooperation to the peoples in the region.

 

In his opening remarks, Mr. Krishna Prasad Dhakal, Joint Secretary and Chairperson of the Programming Committee, reiterated unflinching commitment of Nepal to the SAARC process. He also appreciated the role of the SAARC Secretariat and excellent arrangements made for the meeting.

 

The Programming Committee last met at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu on 06 July 2018.

 

Kathmandu, 11 December 2018

Press Release - Commemoration the Thirty-fourth SAARC Charter Day (08 December 2018).

2018-12-08

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), hosted a Reception this evening to commemorate the Thirty-fourth SAARC Charter Day (08 December 2018).

 

Rt. Hon. Mr. Nanda Bahadur Pun, Vice President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, was the Chief Guest of the occasion.

 

A large number of dignitaries and officials from the Government of Nepal, leaders of political parties, resident Ambassadors, heads of regional and international organizations, representatives from civil society and business community, as well as professionals from various fields attended the function.

 

In his Welcome Remarks, the Secretary General expressed sincere gratitude to the Rt. Hon. Vice President for gracing the event with his august presence. He also welcomed the guests to the function.

 

In his address, the Secretary General said, “Over the last thirty-three years, SAARC has made steady progress toward socio-economic development in the region, which is fundamental to the promotion of the welfare of the peoples and improving their quality of life.”

 

He further stated, “Endowed with vast human and natural resources, South Asia has immense potential. With sustained endeavours, we will surely be able to realize the region’s fullest potential. Essentially, therefore, SAARC is the beacon of hope and aspiration, and a matter of pride for all South Asians. SAARC is our common identity, our inspiration and our future.”

 

The Secretary General extended warmest felicitation to the peoples and Governments of the Member States on the auspicious occasion of the Thirty-fourth SAARC Charter Day.

 

During the First Summit in Dhaka, the Heads of State or Government adopted the Charter of SAARC on 08 December 1985, marking the beginning of a new era of regional cooperation in the history of South Asia.

 

Established with the primary objective of promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and improving their quality of life, SAARC promotes regional collaboration in almost every aspect of development activity having a bearing on the life and livelihood of the peoples of the region.

Kathmandu, 07 December 2018

Press Release - Messages by the leadership of the Member States of SAARC on the auspicious occasion of the Thirty-fourth SAARC Charter Day.

2018-12-08

The Thirty-fourth Charter Day of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is being commemorated on 08 December 2018 in all Member States of SAARC.

 

Among other things, it has been customary for the Heads of State and/or Government or the Ministers for Foreign/External Affairs to issue messages to commemorate the Charter Day.

 

Attached are special messages issued by the leadership of the Member States of SAARC on the auspicious occasion of the Thirty-fourth SAARC Charter Day.

Encls: a.a.

 

SCD Messages from HoS

Kathmandu, 07 December 2018

Press Release: Seventh International Conference of the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons

2018-12-06

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Opening Session of the Seventh International Conference of the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons in Kathmandu last evening. He was the Guest of Honour at the Opening Session.

 

Organized by the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons, the two-day Conference brought together some 200 surgeons, medical professionals and experts from around the world and Nepal to discuss prevention and cure of Obstetric Fistula, a medical condition of some women as a result of complication in childbirth.

 

Addressing the Opening Session, the Secretary General congratulated the Society for organizing the Conference. He said, “This Conference is of enormous significance to SAARC as a regional organization, which accords high priority to the well-being of women in South Asia, including their health. We believe that the empowerment of women socially, economically and politically is crucially important to achieve greater progress and prosperity in our societies.”

 

In his Address, the Secretary General described Obstetric Fistula as “a serious health hazard” to many women. He said, “Our ultimate objective is to prevent and cure fistula. We should also make sustained endeavours to rehabilitate and reintegrate all those women who are already suffering from it. They should be enabled to live a healthy, comfortable and dignified life. Let us work together to achieve this humane objective.”

 

He highlighted that programmes that improve nutrition, delay the age of first pregnancy, improve family planning and increase access to maternal and obstetric care are necessary to prevent obstetric fistula. He asserted, “On the whole, preventing obstetric fistula requires overall improvement in the status of women.”

 

Kathmandu, 06 December 2018

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Vice President of Nepal, 22 November 2018.

2018-11-22

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), called on Rt. Hon’ble Mr. Nanda Bahadur Pun, Vice President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal today.

 

During his call on the Rt. Hon. Vice President, the Secretary General invited him to grace with his august presence the Thirty-fourth SAARC Charter Day Commemoration Ceremony being organized on 07 December 2018. The Rt. Hon. Vice President had been pleased to accept the invitation.

 

During the meeting, the Rt. Hon. Vice President, while underscoring the need for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit, stated that Nepal, as the current Chair of SAARC, has been in active consultation with the Member States for evolving a consensus on a new set of dates for the Summit. He expressed the hope that other Member States would agree to early convening of the Nineteenth Summit.

 

The Rt. Hon. Vice President also appreciated the role played by the Secretary General for taking forward the SAARC process. The dignitary expressed the confidence that SAARC will gain momentum from his long experience, strenuous efforts and able leadership.

 

The Secretary General expressed appreciation to the Government of Nepal for its unflinching commitment to the SAARC process and sustained efforts being made by the leadership for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit. He also thanked the Rt. Hon. Vice President for the support given by the Government of Nepal to the work of the SAARC Secretariat. He expressed the hope that he will continue to receive full support from the Government of Nepal in future as well.

 

Kathmandu, 22 November 2018

Press Release: HOMENET South Asia Trust Delegation visits SAARC Headquarters

2018-11-02

A 15-member delegation from the Network of Homebased Workers in South Asia (Homenet South Asia) paid a visit to the SAARC Headquarters in Kathmandu this afternoon. The delegation was led by Ms. Chandni Joshi, Enforcer, Homenet South Asia Trust.

 

In addition to office bearers and members of Homenet South Asia, the delegation comprised office bearers of SABAH in Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who assembled in Kathmandu for the Tenth Annual General Meeting of SABAH Nepal.

 

The Secretary General received the delegation.

In his briefing to the visiting delegation, the Secretary General elucidated the genesis, objectives and principles of SAARC, including its institutional set up, Secretariat, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies. He presented the areas of regional cooperation being pursued under the aegis of SAARC, which, inter alia, included communication; connectivity; agriculture; public health; energy; environment; and economic cooperation. He also touched upon the agreements and conventions adopted by SAARC to facilitate regional cooperation in a number of areas.

 

In his presentation, the Secretary General referred to the ongoing project-based collaboration under the auspices of the SAARC Development Fund, established in 2010, as the umbrella funding mechanism of SAARC. He also highlighted SAARC’s ongoing collaboration with its Observers, and regional and international organizations, several of which are the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations.

 

Speaking about the way forward, he underscored the importance of regular convening of the meetings of the Charter Bodies of SAARC, including the Summit, in providing renewed impetus to the SAARC process. Improved intra-SAARC connectivity, economic relations and tourism facilitate SAARC’s speedy progression towards the visionary goal of the South Asian Economic Union (SAEU), he affirmed.

 

The presentation was followed by an interactive session in which the visiting members of the delegation raised several pertinent questions.

 

SABAH is the first pilot project funded by the SAARC Development Fund under its Social Window. The project that lasted for six years from 2009 to 2015 was intended to empower home-based workers through economic self-sufficiency by harnessing their indigenous skills for producing market-oriented products.

 

A self-sustaining entity since 2016, SABAH continues to thrive across South Asia, bringing ample opportunities to the home-based workers. In essence, SABAH empowers the women.

Kathmandu, 02 November 2018

PRESS RELEASE: TENTH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE SAARC BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OF HOME-BASED WORKERS (SABAH) KATHMANDU, 31 OCTOBER 2018

2018-10-31

“Economic empowerment of women falling below the poverty line has to be our primary objective, if we were to achieve gender equality and accelerated economic growth in South Asia,” said H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

 

The Secretary General, as the Chief Guest, made these remarks addressing the Inaugural Session of the Tenth Annual General Meeting of the SAARC Business Association of Home-based Workers (SABAH) in Kathmandu today. Chief Patron of SABAH, Ms. Chandni Joshi; Chairperson of SABAH; UN Resident Coordinator; and Head of UNWomen in Kathmandu also addressed the Meeting.

 

The Secretary General stated, “During SAARC Summits, our leaders have underscored the need to improve the social and economic status of women. The resolve of our leaders to empower women is manifest in SAARC’s Social and Economic Agenda aimed at promoting their economic and financial emancipation.”

In his Address, the Secretary General referred to the SAARC Social Charter which he defined as “one of the major initiatives taken by SAARC.” The Charter incorporates a broad range of targets to be achieved across the region for empowering women. “Another such important initiative is the SAARC Gender Policy Advocacy Group (GPAG) that aims at promoting gender equality and empowering women,” he said.

 

“As we are aware, women who are working in the informal sector are the ones who are facing hardships and challenges, while their contribution is not recognized formally. Against this backdrop, the establishment of SABAH is a positive step in creating opportunities for home-based women workers in the region,” the Secretary General asserted.

 

SABAH is the first pilot project funded by the SAARC Development Fund under its Social Window. The project that lasted for six years from 2009 to 2015 was intended to empower home-based workers through economic self-sufficiency by harnessing their indigenous skills for producing market-oriented products.

 

The Secretary General further said, “It is very heartening to note that SABAH today has been able to establish itself as an important entity in South Asia. In essence, SABAH is contributing to the promotion of the spirit of SAARC at the grassroots level in South Asia.”

 

In concluding his remarks, the Secretary General stated, “SABAH has actually developed a model for poverty alleviation. It is in this context that I wish to encourage development partners to collaborate with SABAH in reaching the unreached with a view to alleviating rural poverty at a faster pace.”

Kathmandu, 31 October 2018

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, SAARC, addressed the Inaugural Session of the International Conference on Doubling the Income of Farmers of SAARC Countries in Kathmandu today.

2018-09-20

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Inaugural Session of the International Conference on Doubling the Income of Farmers of SAARC Countries in Kathmandu today.

 

Co-organized by Nepal Agricultural Extension Association, Nepal Agriculture Information and Training Centre and International Society of Extension Education, the four-day Conference brought together representatives from the Member States of SAARC to exchange views on agricultural extension strategies and approaches. In addition, a large number of professionals and experts from several regional and international organizations are attending the Conference.

 

Addressing the International Conference, the Secretary General said, “Although our region is endowed with abundant human and natural resources and agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the South Asian economies, the agricultural sector encounters massive challenges, which include increasing population, shrinking arable lands and farm sizes, rapid urbanization, impact of climate change, natural disasters, post-harvest losses, animal diseases, etc.”

 

The Secretary General said that much of the agricultural production in the region is undertaken by smallholders. In the context of diminishing farm sizes and other existing challenges, appropriate approaches and strategies for sustainable agriculture can play an instrumental role in enhancing the income of farmers as well as in achieving food security, improving nutrition, developing value chain and eventually contributing to poverty alleviation and ending hunger.

 

Since the inception of SAARC in 1985, the leaders have underscored the importance of agriculture in the context of overall developmental goals of the region. He further stated, “Food and nutrition security and agriculture constitute a key component of cooperation under the framework of SAARC. The “SAARC Agriculture Vision 2020” shows the way forward for enhanced regional engagement in the field of agriculture and related sectors.”

 

The conference was informed that regional projects on “Consortium for Scaling-up Climate Smart Agriculture in South Asia” and on "Livelihood enhancement of small farmers in SAARC region through small agro-business focusing on value chain development" have been recently developed, while projects on Zero Energy Cold Storage, Post-Harvest Management and Value Addition of Fruits are being implemented.

 

The SAARC Agriculture Centre, which is a centre of excellence, has been doing a commendable job in research and development in the field of agriculture. Some of the need-based programmes recently undertaken by the Centre include Conservation Agriculture, Climate-smart agricultural policies and strategies, and risk management for small farmers.

 

Kathmandu, 20 September 2018

Press Release-Secretary General of SAARC, today sent a message of felicitation to H. E. Dr. Arif Alvi on his election as the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

2018-09-05

On behalf of officials of the SAARC Secretariat and on his own behalf, H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, today sent a message of felicitation to H. E. Dr. Arif Alvi on his election as the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 

In a letter addressed to the President, the Secretary General said, “Your Excellency’s election to the lofty position is amply demonstrative of the trust and confidence reposed in your able statesmanship.”

 

The Secretary General also acknowledged the constructive role of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in promoting regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC since its inception in 1985. Further acknowledging the support extended by the Government of Pakistan to SAARC and the SAARC Secretariat, he expressed the hope that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Pakistan will accelerate the momentum of the SAARC process in promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia, which, he added, is one of the Charter objectives of SAARC.

 

The Secretary General also wished H. E. the President great success in the sublime position.

 

Kathmandu, 05 September 2018

Press Release-International Women Entrepreneurs’ Summit-2018 in Kathmandu.

2018-09-05

“By economically empowering women, not only we promote gender equality but also socio-economic development. Once women are empowered, both the society and economy will transform,” said H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressing the Valedictory Session of the International Women Entrepreneurs’ Summit-2018 in Kathmandu this morning as the Chief Guest.

 

Organized by the South Asian Women Development Forum, a Recognized Body of SAARC, the Summit brought together women entrepreneurs from 27 countries, and business leaders, experts, and representatives from both the governmental and non-governmental entities.

 

The three-day Summit, which commenced on 03 September 2018, carried the theme, Equality Begins with Economic Empowerment.

 

In his Valedictory Address, the Secretary General further said, “We are living in an era when the environment has been socially, culturally, legally and politically supportive of women’s empowerment. As a result, there is a growing realization among the women across the globe of their legitimate rights. Young girls are increasingly exercising their right to education. Single mothers and widows are gradually engaging themselves in home-based income-generating activities to become financially independent.”

 

He highlighted the regional instruments adopted by SAARC in empowering women and promoting gender equality, with particular reference to the SAARC Social Charter, and Regional Convention on Combatting the Crime of Trafficking Women and Children for Prostitution. He also referred to the regional mechanisms working in the field of women, namely, the Ministerial Meeting on Women, Technical Committee of Women, Youth and Children.

 

He added, “In essence, our focus has been on promoting women’s education; protecting their rights; ensuring that they are free from all sorts of discrimination, both at home and in society; promoting their active participation in socio-economic development; and above all, empowering them economically.”

Kathmandu, 05 September 2018

Press Release: H. E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, visited the SAARC Headquarters this morning.

2018-09-02

H. E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, visited the SAARC Headquarters this morning.

 

H. E. the President was accompanied by his entourage and the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Nepal.

 

To commemorate his visit to the Secretariat, H. E. the President planted a tree in its premises and signed the Visitors’ Book.

 

In his remarks on the Visitors’ Book, H. E. the President stated, “Sri Lanka strongly supports regional cooperation and integration in order to promote the well-being of the peoples of South Asia; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural interaction in the region; and for promoting and strengthening collective voice of the countries of South Asia.”

 

After taking a tour of the Secretariat premises, H. E. the President, in his address, stated that as a founding member of SAARC, Sri Lanka remains committed to the SAARC process. He stated that the Member States should work in the spirt of brotherhood to achieve the objectives of SAARC.

 

H. E. the President thanked the Secretary General for his diligence and dedication for sustaining the momentum of the SAARC process. He appreciated the Secretary General for creating a conducive working environment in the Secretariat to enable the officials to work effectively. He also appreciated the good work and commitment of the Secretariat’s officials.

 

Earlier, delivering his welcome remarks, the Secretary General of SAARC said, “Your Excellency’s momentous visit is a testimony to the importance that you personally and the esteemed Government of Sri Lanka attach to the SAARC process.”

 

He further stated, “As a founding member of SAARC, Sri Lanka has been playing a very constructive role in its evolution since its inception in December 1985. As the host of three SAARC Summits and the three-time Chair of SAARC, Sri Lanka has contributed enormously in enriching the SAARC process.

 

Since its establishment in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987, several SAARC Heads of State and Government have visited the Secretariat.

 

H. E. the President’s current visit is the second one of a Head of State or Government to the SAARC Headquarters this year. In March, during his bilateral visit to Nepal, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan visited the SAARC Secretariat.

 

SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu

02 September 2018

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the First SAARC Agri Cooperative Business Forum in Kathmandu this morning.

2018-08-28

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the First SAARC Agri Cooperative Business Forum in Kathmandu this morning.

 

Devoted to the theme, Organizing and Strengthening Family Farmers’ Cooperatives to attain SDG-1 and SDG-2 in South Asia, the Forum was co-organized by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) with the support from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

 

The three-day Forum brings together representatives both from the government and non-governmental entities from the Member States of SAARC as well as from regional and international organizations. It will conclude on 30 August 2018.

 

Addressing the Inaugural Session of the Forum, the Secretary General said, “South Asia is home to around a quarter of the global population, majority of whom live in the rural areas and depend on natural resources like land, freshwater, coastal fisheries, and forests. Much of the agricultural production in the region is undertaken by smallholders with very small landholdings, while women play a significant role in agriculture.” He added, “In the context of diminishing farm sizes, sustainable Family Farmers’ Cooperatives can play an instrumental role in achieving food security, improving nutrition and developing value chain, eventually contributing to poverty alleviation and ending hunger.”

 

Referring to the SAARC Agriculture Vision 2020 adopted by the SAARC Agriculture Ministers in 2008, the Secretary General said, “Small-sized farms in South Asia face serious constraints in adopting modern technology and in marketing their produce. To some extent, the size disadvantage can be obviated through contract and cooperative farming.”

 

In his statement, Mr. Sial also made a reference to the Declaration of the Eighteenth SAARC Summit, in which, SAARC leaders, inter alia, recognized the potential of Cooperatives in “achieving inclusive, broad-based and sustainable economic growth and development,” and called for “sharing of experiences, expertise and best practices in this sector.” He stated that following the inclusion of Cooperatives as an agreed area of cooperation, an intergovernmental process is underway for finalizing the SAARC Plan of Action for cooperation in matters relating to Cooperatives.

 

In concluding his remarks, he said, “Agricultural Cooperatives can be an effective instrument in tackling the formidable challenge of poverty in the SAARC region. Reaching out to the marginalized segments of the society, Cooperatives can help in employment generation by encouraging small and medium enterprises in communities. Women and the vibrant youth population, with proper awareness and education on agriculture cooperatives, could also be utilized in the poverty eradication programmes in the region.”

Kathmandu, 28 August 2018.

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, congratulated H. E. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on his appointment as the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

2018-08-20

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, congratulated H. E. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on his appointment as the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 

On behalf of officials of the SAARC Secretariat and on his own behalf, the Secretary General said, “We wish to extend very warm welcome to Your Excellency to the distinguished fraternity of the Council of Ministers, comprising Foreign Ministers of the Member States of SAARC. Your Excellency’s contribution to the SAARC process during 2008-2011 had been commendable. We are confident that given your vast knowledge and rich experience, Your Excellency will significantly contribute to further promoting the SAARC process in the attainment of the objectives of SAARC, as enshrined in its Charter.”

 

In his letter to the Foreign Minister, the Secretary General appreciated the vital role being played by Pakistan in the evolution of regional cooperation since the inception of SAARC in December 1985. He said, “Several initiatives spearheaded by Pakistan continue to contribute to the SAARC process for socio-economic development and amelioration of the living standards of the peoples in the region.”

 

Acknowledging the support of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to SAARC and the SAARC Secretariat, the Secretary General expressed the hope that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit will be held soon at Islamabad to provide renewed impetus to the SAARC process.

 

The Secretary General also wished the Foreign Minister every success during his term of office.

 

Kathmandu, 20 August 2018

Press Release: Secretary General of SAARC, felicitated His Excellency Mr. Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, on his appointment as the Prime Minister of of Pakistan.

2018-08-18

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, felicitated His Excellency Mr. Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, on his appointment as the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 

In his letter to the Prime Minister, the Secretary General said, “Your Excellency’s appointment to the exalted position reflects the trust and confidence reposed in your leadership by the people of Pakistan.”

 

The Secretary General acknowledged the significant role played by Pakistan since the inception of SAARC in December 1985 in strengthening regional cooperation in South Asia. He said, “One of the cardinal objectives of SAARC is to promote the welfare of the peoples of SAARC and Pakistan has made laudable contribution in this regard.”

 

The Secretary General expressed the hope that conducive environment will be created for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit at Islamabad.

 

The Secretary General also conveyed good wishes for great success in the exalted position of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

 

Kathmandu, 18 August 2018

Press Release : Asian Youth Assembly-2018

2018-08-11

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the Opening Ceremony of the Asian Youth Assembly-2018 this morning. The Assembly was devoted to the theme, “Revitalizing Asian Youth Integration for Climate Change in the era of SDGs.”

 

Organized by the Global Youth Parliament in cordination with the Youth Parliament of Nepal, the Assembly brought together a large number of young participants from Asia to discuss the role of youth in creating awareness about and averting the adverse impacts of Climate Change.

 

In his Address, the Secretary General congratulated the organizers for choosing an apt theme for the Assembly. He said, “The relevance of the theme of this meeting stems from the fact that the challenges of Climate Change and Sustainable Development are interlinked that must be addressed concomitantly to deliver a stable and secure world to our future generations. There is, therefore, urgent need to effectively address the Climate Change issues to accelerate progress towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

 

“Youth constitute a growing proportion of the world’s population, with a majority of them living in Asia. The South Asian region as well is experiencing increase in the proportion of youth in the total population. This creates a potential window of opportunity for the youth to shape the destiny of our region for the betterment of our future generations,” he stated. He briefed the Assembly about the initiatives taken by SAARC towards the overall development of youth in the region, with particular reference to the SAARC Social Charter, SAARC Youth Charter and SAARC Youth Awards Scheme.

 

“Climate Change has emerged as a global threat, posing a serious risk to the fundamental rights to life, health, food and an adequate standard of living of individuals and communities across the world, including the South Asian region. Frequent earthquakes, cyclones, floods, droughts, tsunamis, landslides, and heat and cold waves have been impinging lives, property, and livelihoods across the region. Global warming and rising sea levels are other existential threats to the humanity,” he said. He informed the gathering about the activities undertaken by SAARC in preserving and protecting the environment and making South Asia resilient to Climate Change and disaster risks. 

 

In concluding his remarks, the Secretary General said, “I wish to call upon the youth of today, who are our future, to act as an “Agent of Change” in creating a safer and better world to live in. I say this not only because you are the ones who are to inhabit the Earth tomorrow. I say this also because you inherit the responsibility to protect your own habitat.”

 

Kathmandu, 11 August 2018

Secretary General of SAARC addresses students of International Relations & Diplomacy of Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, 18 July 2018.

2018-07-18

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, delivered a talk on Regional Cooperation under SAARC: Way Forward at the Tribhuvan University this morning.

 

The talk was attended by the Rector of the University, faculty members and students of International Relations and Diplomacy Programme.

 

In his presentation, the Secretary General introduced SAARC to the participants, focusing primarily on its genesis, membership, objectives, principles, general provisions, institutional mechanisms and areas of cooperation, as determined by the Council of Ministers. He briefed the meeting about SAARC’s collaboration with Observers, regional and international organizations, many of which are UN’s specialized agencies. He also enunciated important developments since the establishment of SAARC in 1985. Stating that the cardinal objective of SAARC is to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia, he emphasized that SAARC’s focus has been on effective implementation of the decisions taken by the Member States rather than proliferation of areas of cooperation, mechanisms and institutions.

 

Touching upon the core subject of his talk, the Secretary General brought to the fore the way forward in making SAARC vibrant in the attainment of its Charter objectives. He emphasized the need to promote project-based collaboration through the SAARC Development Fund, an umbrella funding mechanism created in 2010. Underscoring that improved connectivity is the key to effective regional integration, and promotion of economic relations, people-to-people contacts and tourism, he highlighted the need to effectively implement the Agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and actively pursue the decisions of the Eighteenth Summit regarding establishment of the South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) in a phased and planned manner through creation of Free Trade Area, Customs Union, Common Market and Common Economic and Monetary Union.

 

The Secretary General’s presentation was followed by a question-answer session in which the participants raised issues pertinent to the efficacy and sustainability of SAARC in the present context.

 

Kathmandu, 18 July 2018.

The Fifty-fifth Session of the Programming Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held in Kathmandu today under the Chairpersonship of Nepal.

2018-07-06

The Fifty-fifth Session of the Programming Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held in Kathmandu today under the Chairpersonship of Nepal.

 

The one-day Session of the Programming Committee was attended by representatives from all Member States of SAARC.

 

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the Fifty-fifth Session of the Programming Committee this morning. He congratulated Mr. Krishna Prasad Dhakal, Joint Secretary (SAARC) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal on assuming the Chairmanship of the Programming Committee. He also welcomed the delegates to the meeting and wished them successful deliberations.

 

In his opening remarks, Mr. Dhakal reiterated commitment of Nepal to the SAARC process and commended constructive contribution of the Member States in the attainment of the objectives of SAARC. He also appreciated role of the SAARC Secretariat and excellent arrangements made for the meeting.

 

The Programming Committee performs functions of selection of regional projects and their location, formulation of cost-sharing modalities and mobilization of external resources. The Committee is also mandated to scrutinize budgets of the SAARC Secretariat, SAARC Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies of SAARC, besides determining inter-sectoral priority and finalizing annual Calendar of Activities. It makes its recommendations to the Standing Committee of SAARC comprising Foreign Secretaries.

 

The Programming Committee was accorded the status of a Charter Body of SAARC by the Eighteenth SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014. The Committee comprises Heads of SAARC Division at the level of Director General/Joint Secretary in the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs of the Member States, who also act as National Focal Points of SAARC.

 

The Programming Committee last met at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu on 12-13 December 2017.

 

Kathmandu, 06 July 2018

The Core Group of SAARC Immigration Authorities and Visa Experts commenced its meeting at the SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, today.

2018-06-28

The Core Group of SAARC Immigration Authorities and Visa Experts commenced its meeting at the SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, today.

 

Comprising representatives from the Immigration Authorities of the Member States of SAARC, the Core Group will discuss measures to streamline the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme, including development of its security software for implementation across the region.

 

Addressing the meeting of the Core Group, H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, referred to the launch of the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme as a milestone step towards enhancing people-to-people contacts in the region. He said, “It is essential for promoting regional integration, economic relations and tourism. The ultimate goal is to have a visa free regime in the SAARC region.”

 

The First Meeting of the Core Group was held in October 2017 in the SAARC Secretariat, which deliberated over the Requests for Proposal for development of a security software for the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme. The current Meeting is expected to finalize an electronic visa under the Scheme.

 

The Fifth SAARC Summit held in the Maldives in 1990 had decided to launch the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme. The Scheme became operational in 1992. It allows entitled categories of people visa-free travel across the region.

Kathmandu, 28 June 2018

Press Release: The Fourteenth SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Symposium began in Kathmandu today.

2018-06-27

The Fourteenth SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Symposium began in Kathmandu today. Devoted to the theme, “Developing a Common Platform for Strengthening Digital Payment System in the SAARC Region”, the two-day Symposium was organized by Nepal Rastra Bank under the auspices of SAARCFINANCE.

 

The Symposium was attended by the Governors and Deputy Governors of the Central Banks of the Member States of SAARC.

 

The Hon. Finance Minister of Nepal graced the Inaugural Session of the Symposium. Addressing the Inaugural Session of the Symposium, the Minister underlined the need for strengthened collaboration among the monetary authorities of the Member States. H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), also addressed the Inaugural Session of the Symposium. He said, “With a view to achieving the objectives of SAARC, our leaders have expressed their resolve to promote trade, economic and financial relations among the Member States. More recently, during the Eighteenth SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014, our leaders expressed their strong determination to deepen regional integration by intensifying cooperation, inter alia, in trade, investment and finance. More importantly, our leaders renewed their commitment to achieve South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) in a phased and planned manner through a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market, and a Common Economic and Monetary Union.”

 

In his Address, the Secretary General also touched upon measures initiated by SAARC in the progression towards the eventual goal of SAEU, including efforts underway to promote intra-regional trade, and improve intra-regional connectivity and infrastructure. SAARCFINANCE is a network of Governors of the Central Banks of the Member States of SAARC. Its primary objective is to share experiences on macroeconomic policy issues and promote collaboration among the monetary authorities in the region.

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Kathmandu, 27 June 2018

Press Release: Workshop On “The Role of Arbitrators in Fostering Efficient Resolution of Disputes”, Kathmandu, 26 June 2018

2018-06-26

The SAARC Arbitration Council, a Specialized Body of SAARC, and the Nepal Council of Arbitration, co-organized the Workshop on the theme, the Role of Arbitrators in Fostering Efficient Resolution of Disputes, today.

 

The one-day Workshop in Kathmandu brought together members of the legal fraternity from the Member States of SAARC to discuss the role of Arbitrators in resolution of trade disputes.

 

The Rt. Hon'ble Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Hon. Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of Nepal graced the Inaugural Session with their august presence. Addressing the Inaugural Session of the Workshop, they underscored the importance of arbitration in trade related matters, promotion of economic relations and renewed Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process.

 

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), also addressed the Inaugural Session of the Workshop. He said, “In view of fast growing economies of the countries in the region, it is crucially important to put in place an efficient mechanism for resolution of trade disputes. As we all know, efficient legal services for trade arbitration espouse greater trade and investment, both intra-regionally and globally.”

 

In his Address, the Secretary General further said, “Our region has a vast pool of arbitrators and young budding professionals working towards creating a modern and sustainable trading environment, including a system to efficiently resolve regional and international commercial disputes within the SAARC region. This Workshop provides a welcome opportunity to discuss measures to harness the region’s potential in arbitration and Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).”

 

The Director General of SARCO and Chairman, Nepal Council of Arbitration, also addressed the Inaugural Session of the Workshop.

 

During the Thirteenth SAARC Summit in Dhaka in November 2005, the SAARC Heads of State or Government signed the Agreement to Establish the SAARC Arbitration Council.

 

Operational in Islamabad since 2010, the Council has been able to establish itself as an efficient regional Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism, enabling the traders to resolve their disputes without having to go through a judicial process, which is both expensive and time-consuming.

Kathmandu, 27 June 2018

Secretary General of SAARC calls on the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies of Nepal

2018-06-18

Secretary General of SAARC calls on the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies of Nepal

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, called on Hon. Mr. Matrika Prasad Yadav, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies of Nepal today.

 

During the meeting, the Secretary General felicitated the Hon. Minister on his assumption of the Office and expressed good wishes for success in his important assignment.

 

While reiterating Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process, the Hon. Minister underscored the need for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit. He further stated that the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal, as the current Chair of SAARC, has been in consultation with other Member States to create a conducive environment for early convening of the Summit.

 

The Hon. Minister underscored the need for enhanced intra-regional trade and economic cooperation for the promotion of the welfare of the peoples and socio-economic development in the region. Referring to the low level of intra-regional trade and economic cooperation, the Hon. Minister stated that the meetings of the SAFTA Ministerial Council, SAFTA Committee of Experts and Committee on Economic Cooperation should be convened early to facilitate trade and economic cooperation in the region.

 

The Secretary General expressed appreciation to the Government of Nepal for its unflinching commitment to the SAARC process and endeavours being made by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit. He briefed the Hon. Minister about the status of cooperation in trade and economic areas under the auspices of SAARC. Underscoring the importance of regular convening of SAARC meetings to sustain the momentum of the SAARC process, the Secretary General underlined the need for early convening of the meetings of the SAFTA Ministerial Council, SAFTA Committee of Experts and Committee on Economic Cooperation at the earliest. He emphasized the need for enhanced level of economic cooperation and trade within the SAARC region to promote socio-economic development, which is essential for well-being of the peoples of South Asia, which, he added, is one of the cardinal objectives of SAARC. He also underlined the importance of enhanced connectivity and facilitation of visa in order to promote economic relations, people-to-people contacts and tourism in the region. He also thanked the Government of Nepal for its valuable support to the Secretariat.

Kathmandu, 18 June 2018

Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Third Convocation of the South Asian University in New Delhi this morning

2018-06-07

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Third Convocation of the South Asian University in New Delhi this morning.

 

Visitor’s Nominee Honourable Mr. Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Minister for Education, Science and Technology of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, and Chief Guest Honourable Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Member of the Parliament of the Republic of India, graced the Convocation with their august presence. They also addressed the Convocation.

 

In his Address at the Convocation, the Secretary General recalled the vision of the South Asian University evinced by the former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, during the Thirteenth SAARC Summit in Dhaka in November 2005 and his offer to host the University in New Delhi. He stated, “The establishment of the South Asian University is the manifestation of the determination of the Member States to promote regional engagement in education. As a Centre of Excellence, the University is a beacon of hope for our youth who are our future.”

 

On the auspicious occasion of the Third Convocation, the Secretary General congratulated the distinguished Members of the Governing Board, President, Vice Presidents, Registrar, faculty, members of various Committees, staff and students of the South Asian University. He also felicitated the students who were graduating from the University this year.

 

Citing the importance of education, the Secretary General said, “As we all know, education is of utmost importance to develop our youth into valuable assets for our society. With education, our youth is equipped with the talent and capability for promoting socio-economic development, contributing eventually to the welfare of the peoples. Education is a sine qua non for alleviating poverty from the region, which has about 40% of the world’s poor.”

One of the primary objectives of SAARC as enshrined in its Charter is to “provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials.” As education empowers people, allowing them to realize their potentials, it has been one of the fundamental areas of focus of SAARC. Furthermore, SAARC recognizes literacy as a fundamental human right, the Secretary General said in his Address.

 

Since its establishment in August 2010 in New Delhi, the University has been providing world-class education to South Asian students at affordable cost. Until last year, 837 students have got Master’s Degree, while seven have secured M.Phil. Degree from the University. This year, the University will award 161 students with Master’s Degree, 10 with M.Phil. and 06 with PhD.

 

The Government of India has allocated 100 acres of land in Maidan Garhi, South Delhi, and funds required for constructing a permanent complex of the University, which is currently underway.

 

Kathmandu, 07 June 2018

Press Release- SAARC and UNICEF Renews Cooperation Agreement

2018-06-05

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have renewed a Cooperation Agreement today.

 

The Agreement was signed by the Secretary General of SAARC, His Excellency Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, and Regional Director, UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (UNICEF ROSA), Ms. Jean Gough, at a modest ceremony held at the SAARC Secretariat today.

 

The Cooperation Agreement focuses on the development, protection and participation of children, and raising the awareness, understanding and action for children, through formulating frameworks, policies and programmes, and various other initiatives.

 

SAARC and UNICEF ROSA enjoy excellent collaboration, and work together on issues related to children, specifically focusing on education, early childhood development, maternal and adolescent nutrition, as well as on issues relating to child marriage, development of children and youth, gender equality, violence against children and health issues in South Asia.

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Kathmandu, 05 June 2018

 

Press Release- Secretary General addressed the Inaugural Session of the SAARC Cultural Capital-2018 in Thimphu

2018-05-31

 H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Inaugural Session of the SAARC Cultural Capital-2018 in Thimphu, Bhutan, this morning.

 

Hon. Mr. Tashi Dorji, Chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan graced the occasion with his august presence. He also addressed the Opening Ceremony.

 

            In his Address at the Inaugural Session, the Secretary General congratulated the Royal Government and the people of Bhutan on Thimpu being declared the Second SAARC Cultural Capital for 2018. He stated that this recognition is not only a testimony to the unique beauty and serenity of Thimphu but is also an acknowledgement of the sustained efforts of the Royal Government and the people for protecting and preserving its pristine environment and making Bhutan the only carbon negative country in the world. He further said, “This historic feat of the Royal Government reminds me of the concept of Gross National Happiness introduced by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, which continues to guide its successive Governments in attaining happiness and wellbeing of the people, beyond the count of money and material achievement, popularly known as Gross Domestic Product.”

 

            Touching upon the importance of culture, the Secretary General said, “Culture in any society is the binding force that brings people together. In essence, culture is the fabric of day-to-day life, which shapes the identity of peoples and societies. Protection and promotion of cultural values is, therefore, fundamental to the sustainability of human civilization.”

 

In his address, the Secretary General also thanked the SAARC Cultural Centre based in Colombo for organizing the SAARC Handicraft Workshop and Exhibition coinciding with the opening ceremony of the SAARC Cultural Capital-2018.  The two-day Exhibition, which brings together artisans from the Member States of SAARC, is aimed at showcasing under one roof diverse cultural themes and values of the region. 

               

In pursuance of the SAARC Agenda for Culture adopted by the Fourteenth SAARC Summit in New Delhi, India, in April 2007, Bamiyan Province of Afghanistan was declared the First SAARC Cultural Capital for 2015. Afghanistan organized several cultural activities in Bamiyan Province following this declaration. Bhutan will follow suit during 2018.

Encls: a.a.

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Kathmandu, 31 May 2018   

Secretary General of SAARC calls on the Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal

2018-05-24

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, called on Hon. Mr. Raghubir Mahaseth, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal today.

 

During the meeting, the Secretary General felicitated the Hon. Minister on his assumption of the Office. He also expressed good wishes for the Hon. Minister’s success in his important assignment.

 

While reiterating Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process, the Hon. Minister underlined the need for regular convening of the SAARC Summits. He expressed the hope that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit would be convened at the earliest, for which, the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal, as the current Chair, has been in consultation with the Member States. The Hon. Minister underlined the importance of road, rail and air connectivity for meaningful regional integration. He stated that the meetings of the SAARC mechanisms on transport, including the Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Transport Ministers, would be hosted by the Government of Nepal at the earliest.

 

The Secretary General expressed appreciation for Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process and endeavours being made by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit. He updated the Hon. Minister on the progress being made to enhance physical connectivity across the region, including through the conclusion of the SAARC Motor Vehicles and SAARC Railways Agreements. He also emphasized the need for early finalization of SAARC Air Services Agreement. He underscored that improved connectivity is essential to promote meaningful regional integration, economic relations, people-to-people contacts and tourism. He stressed the need for convening the Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Transport Ministers and Sixth Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Group on Transport at the earliest to finalize the two important Agreements to promote intra-regional connectivity. He also thanked the Government of Nepal for its valuable support to the Secretariat.

 

Kathmandu, 24 May 2018

 

Press Release- Secretary General of SAARC calls on Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology of Nepal

2018-05-23

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, called on Hon. Mr. Gokul Baskota, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology of Nepal today.
 
During the meeting, the Secretary General felicitated the Hon. Minister on his assumption of the Office. He also expressed good wishes for success in the important assignment. 

While reiterating Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process, the Hon. Minister highlighted the role of communication and information technology in today’s interconnected and interdependent world for advancement and prosperity of the common people. He underscored the need for strengthened collaboration among the Member States of SAARC in the areas of information and communication technology, media, knowledge based industry, culture, trade, connectivity, tourism, and people-to-people contacts for socio-economic development in South Asia. While stressing the need for regular holding of SAARC activities, the Hon. Minister expressed the hope that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit would be convened at the earliest for which, he added, Nepal, as the current Chair of SAARC, will play its due role.

The Secretary General expressed appreciation for Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process and endeavours being made by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit. He briefed the Hon. Minister on the progress being made under the SAARC process, with particular reference to regional cooperation in the fields of information and media, telecommunication and ICT, and connectivity. The Secretary General underscored that SAARC should be people-centric in order to promote the welfare of the peoples and improve their quality of life, which, he added, is the cardinal objective of SAARC. He also thanked the Government of Nepal for its valuable support to the Secretariat. 
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Kathmandu, 23 May 2018
 

Press Release- Delegation of Bhutan Broadcasting Service visits SAARC Headquarters

2018-05-17

            A 14-member delegation from the Bhutan Broadcasting Service paid a visit to the SAARC Headquarters in Kathmandu, this forenoon. The delegation was led by Mr. Jigme, Executive Producer.

 

            The Secretary General received the delegation and briefed them about the SAARC process, including the Charter provisions and institutional set up. He touched upon the current status of cooperation in seven priority areas identified by the Eighteenth SAARC Summit, namely, communication; connectivity; agriculture; public health; energy; environment; and economic cooperation. He underscored that the cardinal objective of SAARC, as enshrined in its Charter, is to promote the welfare of the peoples and improve their quality of life.  

 

In his briefing, the Secretary General also referred to the ongoing project-based collaboration under the auspices of the SAARC Development Fund, the umbrella funding mechanism of SAARC. He also highlighted SAARC’s current engagement with its Observers to promote project-based collaboration in the seven priority areas, as desired by the leaders of SAARC. He underscored that improved intra-regional connectivity and enhanced people-to-people contacts were key to the realization of the goal of effective regional economic integration.

 

            The presentation was followed by an interactive session in which the visiting members of the delegation raised several questions of interest.

 

             The Secretary General hosted a working luncheon in honour of the visiting delegation which was visiting Nepal on a study tour.

 

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Kathmandu, 17 May 2018

Press Release - Secretary General of SAARC calls on Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal

2018-05-10

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), called on Hon. Mr. Rabindra Prasad Adhikari, Minister for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal. While felicitating the Minister on his assumption of the Office, the Secretary General expressed his good wishes for success in the important assignment, which is relevant to the areas of cooperation in the SAARC process. He also congratulated the Minister on successful holding of International Buddhist Conference recently in Lumbini.

 

While reiterating Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process, the Minister expressed the hope that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit would be convened as soon as possible and dates of the Summit would be announced at the earliest. In this regard, the Minister highlighted the efforts being made by Nepal as the current Chair of SAARC to create a conducive environment for holding of the SAARC Summit and other meetings through active consultations with the other Member States.

 

The Minister underscored the need of pursuing the objectives and ideals of the SAARC Charter and aspirations of the peoples by promoting key areas of cooperation. The Minister also underscored the need for improving intra-regional connectivity, cultural cooperation and promotion of tourism.

 

The Secretary General briefed the Minister on the progress being made and recent activities/meetings held in the fields of culture, tourism and civil aviation. While stating that tourism, culture and civil aviation constitute important areas of cooperation in the SAARC process, the Secretary General particularly emphasized the need to improve intra-regional air connectivity by early finalization of SAARC Air Services Agreement, for the promotion of economic relations, people-to-people contacts and tourism. He agreed that the SAARC Summits should be held regularly as decided by the Leaders and underlined that other activities of the SAARC Mechanisms should be held as per calendar of activities.

 

The Minister said that serious efforts should be made by all concerned to achieve the objectives of the SAARC Charter for welfare of the peoples. The Secretariat should also continue to play its due role. He expressed the confidence that with his vast experience, the Secretary General would make an important contribution in this regard. The Secretary General assured his full cooperation and thanked the Government of Nepal for its valuable support to the SAARC Secretariat.

SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, 10 May 2017

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the Inaugural Session of the Regional Kick-off Workshop of the Project, Strengthening Regional Infrastructure and Cooperation in the field of Quality Infrastructure, that commenced in

2018-05-08

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the Inaugural Session of the Regional Kick-off Workshop of the Project, Strengthening Regional Infrastructure and Cooperation in the field of Quality Infrastructure, that commenced in Kathmandu from today.

 

The two-day start-up Workshop was organized by Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) (National Metrology Institute) of the Federal Republic of Germany in collaboration with Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology.

 

Hon. Mr. Matrika Prasad Yadav, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies of Nepal graced the occasion with his presence as the Chief Guest.

 

In his address, the Secretary General thanked PTB for launching the project in 2010, which is now in its third and final phase for the period 2018-2021. Giving due regard to SAARC’s collaboration with its partners, including PTB, he said, “This Workshop is a testimony to SAARC’s increasing engagement and collaboration with regional and international organizations, as well as with its observers. It is also a good example of SAARC’s interest in project-based collaboration.”

 

Addressing the Workshop, he further said, “Home to one fourth of humanity and endowed with abundant human and natural resources, the SAARC region has vast potential for socio-economic development and improving the quality of life of the peoples. Moreover, with a consumer market of 1.7 billion people, South Asia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. These advantages provide tremendous potential for enhanced intra-regional trade for sustained economic growth.”

 

SAARC and PTB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2003 with the objective to implement technical cooperation projects in the area of metrology, standards, testing, quality management, accreditation and certification, collectively known as MSTQ, in the Member States of SAARC.

Since the signing of the MoU, PTB has provided numerous capacity building programmes in the field of Metrology and Accreditation to the Member States and has been an important development partner of SAARC for project-based collaboration.

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Kathmandu, 08 May 2018

Press Release - Regional Conference on Scaling-Up the Nutritional Care of Women in South Asia, 07-09 May 2018

2018-05-07

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the Inaugural Session of the Regional Conference on Scaling-up the Nutritional Care of Women in South Asia in Kathmandu on 07 May 2018 as the Chief Guest.

 

Devoted to the theme, “Stop Stunting – Power of Maternal Nutrition”, the Regional Conference was co-hosted by SAARC and UNICEF.

 

In his address at the Inaugural Session, the Secretary General welcomed the participation of over 120 delegates from the region and other parts of the world. Touching upon the theme of the Conference, he stated, “Good nutrition and a healthy diet is important in every phase of life. It is even more crucial, during pregnancy, both for the health of the mother and the baby during the first years of the babies’ life.” He further said, “One third of world’s women with anaemia live in South Asia. Improving nutritional situation of women and children in South Asia requires reaching out to women during adolescence, pre-conception and pregnancy stage. In the meanwhile, combining nutrition-specific interventions with measures aimed at empowering women is essential.”

 

Kathmandu, 07 May 2018

Press Release- the 12th Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers in Manila

2018-05-04

The Twelfth Informal Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers was held in Manila, the Philippines, on 04 May 2018 on the sidelines of the 51st Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank. The Meeting, attended by the Hon’ble Finance Ministers/Heads of Delegations from the SAARC Member States, was held under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Finance Minister of Nepal, H. E. Mr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada.

 

In his opening statement, the Chairman thanked ADB for its continuous support to SAARC. He also commended excellent arrangements made by SAARC Secretariat and ADB for the Meeting. He underscored that concerted efforts should be made to attain the objective of South Asian Economic Union, in phased manner, as desired by the leaders of SAARC.

 

The Secretary General of SAARC, H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, made a statement on “Review of Progress in Transition to South Asian Economic Union” and underlined that the Member States may make sincere efforts for implementing the objective of achieving South Asian Economic Union, as envisioned by the Leaders of SAARC. He recalled that in order to enable SAARC to achieve regional economic integration, ADB had agreed to provide support to SAARC in: (i) economic integration studies; (ii) infrastructure; (iii) connectivity; and (iv) energy. He appreciated the important contribution of ADB in various areas of regional economic cooperation under the framework of SAARC and hoped that ADB would continue to do so for the economic development of the South Asian region.

 

Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President of Asian Development Bank briefed the Meeting about the status of collaboration between ADB and SAARC. He reaffirmed ADB’s commitment to continue collaboration with SAARC for economic development and prosperity of the peoples in the region.

 

The Finance Ministers/Heads of Delegation briefed the Meeting about the current status of economic progress achieved by them, appreciated the contribution made by ADB in their economic growth and hoped that SAARC would make further progress to achieve its full potential for the benefit of peoples of the region.

 

Mr. Lei Lei Song, ADB expert made a presentation on “Artificial Intelligence Anxiety? Technology and Jobs for South Asia” which is one of the criticial contemporary economic issues affecting the SAARC Countries.

 

Kathmandu, 04 May 2018

Secretary General of SAARC calls on the Foreign Minister of Nepal

2018-04-23

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), called on Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal this morning. While felicitating the Minister on his assumption of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, the Secretary General expressed his good wishes for success in the important position in the Government. He also briefed the Foreign Minister on the status of ongoing activities of the SAARC process, including four ministerial meetings that have been held in a year and the forthcoming meeting of the Finance Ministers. 

 

The Minister expressed confidence that with his long diplomatic experience, active role being played by the Secretary General would be instrumental in carrying forward the SAARC process. He also assured him of full cooperation of the Government of Nepal in discharging his responsibilities as the Secretary General of SAARC as well as for effective functioning of the SAARC Secretariat. 


The Minister stated that SAARC should be instrumental in economic integration of South Asia through meaningful connectivity and trade among the Member States of SAARC. The Minister also stressed the need for strengthening the SAARC process in order to make it more efficient and capable in dealing with common problems and challenges being faced by South Asian people. He particularly underlined the need for poverty alleviation through concerted efforts under the auspices of SAARC as one fourth of the humanity lives in the region. While expressing Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process, the Minister underscored the need for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit.   In this regard, the Minister highlighted the efforts being made by Nepal as the current Chair of SAARC to create conducive environment for early convening of the SAARC Summit and other meetings by consulting other Member States.  

 

The Secretary General commended continued support given by the Government of Nepal to the Secretariat. He also expressed the hope that the Minister as the Chair of the SAARC Council of Ministers would provide continuous help and guidance to the Secretariat for its effective functioning. The Secretary General also underscored the importance of regular holding of the SAARC Summits and other meetings of the SAARC mechanisms in order to create renewed momentum in regional cooperation. He also briefed the Minister on recent reforms introduced at the Secretariat to make it more efficient and responsive to the Member States and for enhancing the visibility of the SAARC process and upgradation of IT infrastructure. 

 

23 April 2018, SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu.

Press Release- Secretary General of SAARC, inaugurated Video Conferencing facility and digital library at the STAC

2018-04-12

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, inaugurated Video Conferencing facility and digital library at the SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre in Bhaktapur, Nepal, today.

 

Addressing the officials present on the occasion, the Secretary General lauded the initiative taken by the Centre in creating the Video Conferencing facility. He expressed the hope that the facility will enable the Centre to carry out its functions more efficiently in a cost-effective manner, particularly through regular contacts with the members of its Governing Board and National Focal Points.

 

The Secretary General also appreciated the launching of the digital library, which he described as the “state-of-the art” facility in today’s world of Information Age. He expressed the hope that the digital library, which is accessible through a password, will be of great use to students and scholars in the pursuit of their learning. Medical Universities/Colleges and research institutions will also be able to benefit from the treasure of knowledge available in the digital library.

 

The Secretary General congratulated Dr. R. P. Bichha, Director of the Centre and his dedicated team on these achievements. He also thanked the Director for his able leadership in guiding the affairs of the Centre since his joining last year.

 

While in STAC, the Secretary General also addressed the participants attending the Workshop on e-Library organized by the Centre. On the occasion, he also distributed Staff of the Year Award-2017 to Mr. Krishna Basnet, Administrative Officer, and certificates of appreciation to three other officials of the Centre on their outstanding performance.

 

Since its establishment in 1994, STAC has been playing an important role in the control of Tuberculosis, particularly through the launch of the SAARC Regional Strategy for Control of TB in 2013.  In recognition of its outstanding performance, the Twenty-seventh Meeting of the Governing Board declared STAC as a Centre of Excellence.  

 

Besides STAC, SAARC has three other Regional Centres, namely, SAARC Agriculture Centre (Dhaka); SAARC Energy Centre (Islamabad); and SAARC Cultural Centre (Colombo). An interim Unit of the SAARC Disaster Management Centre is functional in Gujarat, India. These Centres facilitate collaboration among the Member States of SAARC in specialized fields.

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Kathmandu, 12 April 2018

Press Release: Secretary-General of SAARC, delivered opening remarks at the 11th SAARC Conference on Cooperation in Police Matters in Kathmandu

2018-04-11

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, delivered opening remarks during the Inaugural Session of the Eleventh SAARC Conference on Cooperation in Police Matters in Kathmandu today.

 

In his Address, the Secretary General lauded the initiative taken by Nepal in convening the Conference and expressed the hope that it will reinvigorate collaboration among the Police Authorities in the identified areas.

 

He said, “Law and order are crucial to the promotion of peace, security and stability in the region. These are essentially the prerequisites for social and economic development, and promotion and protection of human rights, contributing eventually to the welfare of our peoples, which is the cardinal objective of SAARC.” He further said, “SAARC represents the desire of our leaders to promote mutual trust, confidence and cooperation among the Member States. This is possible only when the region is safe and secure, on which depend the success and sustainability of every human endeavour.”

 

The full text of the Secretary General’s Address is attached.

 

The one-day Conference is attended by the Heads of Police Authorities or their representatives from the Member States. The Conference was preceded by the meetings of the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) and SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD) yesterday, both of which are operational in Colombo.

 

Besides reviewing progress in the implementation of the past decisions, the Conference is expected to consider the concept papers on SAARCPOL and SAARC Institute of Criminology, and networking among the Police Authorities and combating corruption, among others.

Kathmandu, 11 April 2018

ENDS

 

Press Release: Secretary-General of SAARC addressed the SAC-Donor Consultation Meeting in Kathmandu

2018-04-06

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial,  Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the SAARC Agriculture Centre(SAC)- Donor Consultation Meeting on SAARC Regional Agricultural Projects  in Kathmandu on 05 April 2018, as the Chief Guest.

 

In his address at the Inaugural Session, the Secretary General appreciated the coming to gether of the development partners to support SAARC's endeavours  in promoting  project­ based collaboration in agriculture. He said, "This meeting assumes considerable significance in our bid to intensify project-based collaboration in agriculture." He further said, "On behalf of the SAARC Development Fund,  which is the umbrella funding mechanism of SAARC, I also wish to express  our willingness  to  join hands with our development partners in implementing agriculture-related projects in the region."


The full text of the Secretary General's Inaugural Address is attached.


The  two-day Consultation Meeting, which  is being organized jointly by the SAARC Agriculture Centre, Dhaka, and the International Food Policy Research  Institute (IFPRI), brings together representatives of the Member States of SAARC and development partners for consideration of agriculture-related projects in the region.

 

During the Meeting, the SAARC Agriculture Centre presented seven project proposals for consideration of the donor community.

 

The Centre, which is one of SAARC's Centres of Excellence, has  been operational in Dhaka, Bangladesh, since 1988. It facilitates research and development and project-based collaboration in agriculture in the region.

 

Kathmandu, 06 April 2018

Press Release:Secretary-General of SAARC calls on Vice President of Nepal

2018-04-05

Secretary-General of SAARC calls on Vice President of Nepal

 

The Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, called on Rt. Hon. Vice President of Nepal, H.E Mr. Nanda Bahadur Pun, on 5 April 2018 and congratulated the Vice President on his unanimous re-election. He also added that this demonstrates the confidence the people of Nepal repose in his leadership. 

 

While thanking the Secretary General for his kind words, Vice President expressed confidence that with the long diplomatic experience of working as Director SAARC and serving in various Pakistan missions abroad, the Secretary General would add more dynamism to SAARC process during his tenure. The Vice President underlined the need for convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit in Pakistan as early as possible and assured that Nepal, as chair, has been putting in its efforts for creating a conducive environment through dialogue during bilateral meetings with the Member States. The Vice President emphasized the need to reinvigorate SAARC for the well-being of the peoples in the region.

 

The Secretary General of SAARC thanked the Government of Nepal for the leadership role as the chair and for the support given to the Secretariat and expressed hope that it will continue its support to the SAARC Headquarters. He underscored the importance of Summit in giving renewed impetus to the regional cooperation process. The Secretary General expressed his commitment to provide efficient and best possible services to the Member States and do his utmost in promoting the objectives of SAARC, which is the welfare of the people of the region. He also underscored the need for air, road and rail connectivity for regional and economic integration. 

 

SAARC Secretariat

Kathmandu

5 April 2018 

Press Release:Inaugural Session of the 6th SAARC Business Leaders' Conclave in Kathmandu

2018-03-18

PRESS RELEASE -Secretary General felicitated Rt. Hon. Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari on her re-election as the President

2018-03-15

On behalf of all officials of the SAARC Secretariat, H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, felicitated Rt. Hon. Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari on her re-election as the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal yesterday.

 

In his letter addressed to the Rt. Hon. President, the Secretary General said, “Your Right Hon’ble’s re-election to the high office of the presidency for a second term is amply indicative of the trust and confidence that the people of Nepal rest in Your Right Hon’ble’s sagacious leadership. We wish Your Rt. Hon’ble great success in the exalted position.”

 

Referring to the three Summits hosted by Nepal in 1987, 2002 and 2014, the Secretary General said Nepal, as the founding member, had been playing a key role in the evolution of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC since its inception in December 1985. He expressed the hope to receive continued support and guidance from Nepal, as the current Chair of SAARC, in further strengthening the SAARC process.

___________

Kathmandu, 15 March 2018

Press Release- SAARC Secretariat express sorrow over US-Bangla plane crash

2018-03-13

PRESS RELEASE

          
            On behalf of all officials at the SAARC Secretariat and on his own behalf, the Secretary General of SAARC conveyed sincere condolences to the people and Governments of Bangladesh and Nepal over the loss of precious lives in the tragic accident that an aircraft of US-Bangla Airlines met at Kathmandu Airport on 12 March 2018. 

           

In his letters addressed to the Foreign Secretaries of Bangladesh and Nepal, the Secretary General expressed profound grief and sorrow over the tragic incident. He further said, “Our sympathies are with the families of those who passed away in the sad incident.  May the departed souls rest in eternal peace!”

 

_________

 

 

Kathmandu, 13 March 2018

Press Release- The Prime Minister of Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, visited SAARC Secretariat, 06 March 2018

2018-03-06

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, visited SAARC Secretariat today. While welcoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Secretary General of SAARC, H.E Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister for gracing the Secretariat with his presence taking out precious time during his visit to Nepal. He added that the visit is a source of inspiration and encouragement to the officials of SAARC to work with even greater zeal and zest to provide best possible services to the Member States. He said that the holding of Summit, as decided by the leaders during Eighteenth SAARC Summit, will give renewed impetus to the SAARC process.

Prime Minister Abbasi in his remarks, renewed Pakistan’s commitment to the SAARC process and emphasized the need on early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit. He also underscored the importance of connectivity for regional integration and SAARC’s role in promoting wellbeing and welfare of the peoples. He appreciated the SAARC Secretariat for the services rendered to the Member States. To commemorate the visit, he also planted a tree at the SAARC Secretariat.

The Secretary General paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 5 March 2018. He briefed the Prime Minister on the status of regional cooperation.

After the establishment of the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987, several Heads of State and Government from the Member States have visited the Secretariat. The present visit of the Prime Minister took place exactly after nine years of the visit of the President of Sri Lanka in March 2009.

 

 

SAARC Secretariat

Kathmandu

06 March 2018

33rd SAARC Charter Day Messages

2017-12-08

Message from Afghanistan

Message from Bangladesh

Message from Bhutan

Message from India

Message from Madives

Message from Nepal

Message from Pakistan

Message from Sri Lanka

Message from the Secretary General

Press Release - Inauguration of the Everest Room and the back courtyard of the Secretariat, 05 December 2017

2017-12-05

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

The Secretary General of SAARC, Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, inaugurated the recently renovated conference facility equipped with state-of-the art video-conferencing system at the SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, on 05 December 2017. The facility will enhance the Secretariat’s capacity and capability to interact with the Member States in an efficient manner. It will also facilitate video-conferencing among the Member States.

 

It is also in-line with the stress laid-down by the Member States for upgradation of the information technology at the SAARC Secretariat to act as nerve Centre for the regional cooperation.

 

The Secretary General also inspected the recently renovated Himalayan Room (Conference Hall) and adjacent meeting rooms.

 

 

 

Kathmandu.

05 December 2017.

Press Release - Secretary General of SAARC calls on Vice President of Nepal

2017-11-22

Press Release

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Vice President of Nepal

 

The Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, called on Rt. Hon. Vice President of Nepal, H.E Mr. Nanda Bahadur Pun on 22 November 2017 and extended an invitation to him to attend Thirty-third SAARC Charter Day Celebration Ceremony to be held on 8 December 2017. The Vice President had been pleased to accept the invitation.

 

During the meeting, Vice President appreciated the Secretary General for the energy and enthusiasm with which he is fulfilling his duties and expressed the hope that the SAARC process will gain momentum from his experience and able leadership.

 

                The Secretary General thanked the Vice President for the support he has received from the Government of Nepal and the Vice President since assuming of charge in March this year and expressed the hope that he will continue to receive full support of Government of Nepal in discharge of his duties.

Meeting of the Core Group of SAARC Immigration Authorities convenes

2017-10-10

PRESS RELEASE- SAARC COUNCIL OF MINISTERS MEETS, NEW YORK, 21 September 2017

2017-09-23

PRESS RELEASE

 

The SAARC Council of Ministers met in an informal session in New York on 21 September 2017 on the sidelines of the Seventy-second  Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

 

In his capacity as the Chairperson of the SAARC Council of Ministers, H. E. Mr. Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Nepal, presided over the deliberations of the session, attended by Hon. Foreign Ministers of SAARC Member States.

 

In his opening remarks, the Chairperson highlighted the important initiatives taken by Nepal, as the Chair of SAARC, in pursuing the directives of the Eighteenth SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in November 2014.  

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, also addressed the informal session of the Council. In his brief remarks, he apprised the Foreign  Ministers of the progress achieved in the implementation of the decisions of the Eighteenth SAARC Summit and the last Session of the Council of Ministers held in Pokhara in March 2016. 

 

The Ministers reiterated their full commitment to the SAARC process and stressed the need to promote progress and prosperity for the people's of South Asian Region through the platform of SAARC. In order to enhane economic relations, people-to-people contacts and tourism, the Ministers emphasised the need to improve connectivity in the region. They commended the work done by SAARC Secretariat and underlined that it should play even greater role in promoting the objectives of SAARC. Also the Ministers agreed to work on the  dates for the 19th SAARC Summit and tasked the Secretariat to coordinate.

 

Taking advantage of their presence in New York during the United Nations General Assembly, the Foreign Ministers of SAARC have been meeting informally since 1987 on the sidelines to exchange views on the SAARC process.

 

21st Sept 2017. 
New York.

Press Release: SAARC Friendship Badminton Competition

2017-08-24

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

 

SAARC FRIENDSHIP BADMINTON COMPETITION

 

 

 

 

In view of the importance of sports being a healthy activity and its role in bringing people together as well as enhancing friendly and harmonious relations among SAARC fraternity, the SAARC Secretariat is organizing a Friendly Badminton Competition among all officials and the family members, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Missions of SAARC Member States in Kathmandu and SAARC Tuberculosis & HIV/AIDS Centre, on Saturday, 26 August 2017 at Armed Police Force Sports Complex (APF Headquarters), Halchowk, Ring Road, Kathmandu.

 

On the invitation of the Secretary General of SAARC, 28-teams will participate in Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles of the Friendly Badminton Competition.

 

The Heads of Diplomatic Missions of the Member States of SAARC in Kathmandu, and senior officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, have been invited to witness the Friendly Competition in case they are not participating in it. The friendly competition will be followed by a luncheon hosted by the SAARC Secretariat.

 

 

 

Kathmandu, 24 August 2017

Secretary General expresses condolences at the loss of lives and properties in Bangladesh, India and Nepal due to recent massive floods.

2017-08-15

PRESS RELEASE

 

Secretary General expresses condolences

            The Secretary General of SAARC has expressed his sorrow and grief at the loss of lives and properties in Bangladesh, India and Nepal due to recent massive floods. He has expressed sincere condolences to the Governments and people of these countries on the loss of precious lives and sympathized with those who have suffered injuries and damage to their property.   

            The Secretary General acknowledged the resilience of the people in the wake of the natural disaster and appreciated immediate rescue and relief efforts being carried out by the governments for their people. He has expressed the hope that water will recede soon and the life of the people in the affected areas will return to normalcy. 

            The Secretary General has also expressed heartfelt condolences to the people and Government of Pakistan over the loss of precious lives in a terrorist incident in Quetta, Pakistan, on 12 August 2017.

___

Kathmandu, 14 August 2017

Press Release: Sixth Meeting of the SAARC Ministers of Health and preceding Meeting of Senior Officials, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 27-29 July 2017

2017-07-31

The Meeting of the Health Ministers was inaugurated by Honourable Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine of Sri Lanka.

 

The Secretary General of SAARC, H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, addressed the Inauguration Ceremony and thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for hosting this important meeting and recalled that SAARC’s leaders have time and again underlined the imperative of improved health of the peoples of South Asia. He also highlighted the fact that, though South Asia has seen the improvement in health care facilities across the region, medical care and treatment is still not easily available, are expensive and at times not affordable by the people at large. Hence, the Secretary General urged that every attempt must be made to reach out to the poor with basic health facilities at affordable prices and this should be a priority for SAARC.

 

The Secretary General made a suggestion for consideration of the Health Ministers Meeting regarding establishment of a South Asian Medical University, which could enable South Asian students to study medicine within the region at affordable cost.

 

Honourable Dr. Senaratne, in his address at the Ceremony, pointed out that non-communicable diseases, malnutrition and tuberculosis are identified as major health issues facing the people of South Asia. In this context, Minister Senaratne shared the experience of Sri Lanka in curbing the increase in non-communicable diseases and highlighted the important role of universal access to education and the empowerment of women.

 

On the suggestion of the establishing a South Asian Medical University, Minister Senaratne welcomed the proposal by the Secretary General and announced that they would be happy to host the Medical University in Sri Lanka. The Meeting concurred with suggestion and offer by the Government of Sri Lanka.

 

The Health Ministers adopted a “Colombo Declaration – Calling for accelerated progress on key Regional Health Issues”, which made recommendations on important areas related to public health such as Vector-Borne Diseases, Non-Communicable Diseases, Nutrition, Sanitation, traditional systems of medicines and Human Resources for Health. The Declaration also agreed to collaborate at a regional level, to safeguard the health of migrants.

 

The Health Ministers Meeting took a number of other important decisions for enhancing cooperation among Member States of SAARC for improving health care facilities.

 

The SAARC Technical Committee on Health and Population Activities, will further discuss and follow-up on the decisions made by the Sixth Meeting of the Ministers of Health, in its next Meeting scheduled to be held in Islamabad, Pakistan in December 2017.

 

Kathmandu, 30 July 2017

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal

2017-06-30

Press Release

 

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal

 

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) called on Hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, H.E Krishna Bahadur Mahara who is also Chair of the SAARC Council of Ministers, on 30 June 2017 at his office in Singa Durbar.

 

DPM/FM expressed confidence that Secretary General’s vast experience and tested leadership would bring new dynamism to the SAARC process during his tenure. He assured the Secretary General of full cooperation of Government of Nepal in fulfilling his responsibilities. DPM reiterated Nepal’s commitment to the SAARC process and said that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit should take place at the earliest.

 

The Secretary General expressed his commitment to do his utmost to serve to the best of his capability for achievement of the purposes and objectives of SAARC Charter and hoped for continued support and guidance from the Chair of the SAARC Council of Ministers. He assured the DPM/FM of the efficient and effective services of the Secretariat to the Member States and enhanced visibility of SAARC. SG also briefed DPM/FM about the upcoming Ministerial Meetings of SAARC. He commended the role of Nepal in supporting the SAARC process as the Chair of SAARC, its founding member and host of the Secretariat.

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Prime Minister of Nepal

2017-06-19

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Prime Minister of Nepal

 

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) called on Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal, H.E Sher Bahadur Deuba on 19 June 2017 at his office in Singa Durbar.

 

The Secretary General congratulated the Prime Minister on assuming the high office. While appreciating the role played by Nepal as the founder member of SAARC, host of the Secretariat and the current Chair in the SAARC process, Secretary General expressed hope for continued support from Government of Nepal in promoting the ideals of SAARC. He informed the Prime Minister about the measure being taken to strengthen the SAARC process.

 

Congratulating the Secretary General on his new assignment, the Prime Minister expressed hope that given his experiences in SAARC, the Secretary General will be able to perform his responsibilities well for the benefit of the region and will be a successful Secretary Geneal. The Prime Minister also expressed the hope that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit will be held soon in Pakistan.

 

Kathmandu, 19 June 2017.

Condolence message sent by the Secretary-General of SAARC on the recent terrorist attack in Kabul

2017-06-01

PRESS RELEASE

Following message of condolence has been sent today to H. E. Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, by H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, on the recent terrorist attack in Kabul:

Quote:

Excellency,

 

            We are deeply saddened to learn about the terrorist attack in Kabul on the 31 May 2017. We strongly condemn this gruesome act of terrorism.

 

On behalf of the SAARC Secretariat and on my own behalf, I wish to express our deepest condolences to the people and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the loss of more than 80 innocent civilians and over 460 injured.

 

We express our sincere sympathies to the members of the bereaved families and pray for speedy recovery of those injured in this heinous terrorist act.

 

            The scourge of terrorism remains the main obstacle for the prosperity and development of the SAARC region. Combating it requires sincere, genuine and concerted efforts.  As the people of Afghanistan mourn this tragic incident, our thoughts and prayers are with the people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in this hour of grief.

           

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

 

 

Unquote:

_____

Kathmandu, 01 June 2017.

The Secretary General of SAARC is on an introductory visit to Sri Lanka from 29 to 31 May 2017.

2017-05-30

PRESS RELEASE

 

  1. The Secretary General of SAARC, H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, is on an introductory visit to Sri Lanka from 29 to 31 May 2017.
  2. During the visit, the Secretary General paid courtesy calls on H. E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka; and Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and held a meeting with H. E. Mr. Esala Weerakoon, Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka.
  3. In his meetings with the dignitaries in Sri Lanka, Mr. Sial thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for its valuable support to his appointment as the Secretary General of SAARC. He conveyed sincere condolences on the loss of precious lives and expressed sympathies to those who were injured and became homeless, and on colossal loss caused to the property by recent torrential rain and landslides in Sri Lanka.
  4. During his call on the President, the Secretary General apprised the President on the present state of affairs of SAARC and measures being taken to strengthen the SAARC process. The President shared his vision on how to reinvigorate SAARC and how it can serve one fifth of humanity in the region. He also reiterated Sri Lanka’s commitment to SAARC and said that the Ninteenth SAARC Summit may be held soon with substantive outcomes.
  5. After a briefing by the Secretary General, the Foreign Minister said that SAARC should become more action-oriented, effectively implement its decisions, and emphasized the need for more intra-regional trade. He particularly underscored the need for economic integration and connectivity in the region.
  6. The Foreign Secretary and the Secretary General exchanged views on all aspects of SAARC and agreed on a number of measures that should be taken to bolster the SAARC process as well as to make the SAARC Secretariat an effective and efficient institution that should be responsive to the Member States of SAARC. The Foreign Secretary and the Secretary General were of the opinion that in order to create conducive environment for early convening of the Nineteenth SAARC Summit, sectoral Ministerial meetings may be held.
  7. The Secretary General thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for its wholehearted support to SAARC and hosting the SAARC Cultural Centre and for building new premises for the Centre. He also thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for its offer to host two Ministerial-level meetings in July 2017.
  8. During the visit, the Secretary General, inter alia, will have a meeting with the Secretary General of the Parliament of Sri Lanka and visit the SAARC Cultural Centre.

________

Kathmandu, 30 May 2017.

Condolence message sent by the Secretary-General of SAARC on the loss of precious lives and colossal damage to property due to recent torrential rain and landslides in Sri Lanka

2017-05-29

PRESS RELEASE

Following message of condolence has been sent today to H. E. Mr. Esala Weerakoon, Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka, by H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, on the loss of precious lives and colossal damage to property due to recent torrential rain and landslides in Sri Lanka:

Quote:

Excellency,


            On behalf of all officials of the SAARC Secretariat and on my own behalf, I wish to convey our sincere condolences to the people and the Government of Sri Lanka on the loss of precious lives of more than 150 people due to recent torrential rain and landslides in Sri Lanka. We would also like to express our sympathies on injuries suffered by hundreds of people, and on colossal loss of property, and damage caused to homes of more than 500000 people due to the incident.

 

Our sympathies are with the bereaved families, who may have the courage to bear this irreparable loss, and prayers for speedy recovery of those who have been injured in the incident and early rehabilitation of those who have lost their homes.

 

            Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

 

 

Unquote:

_____

Kathmandu, 29 May 2017.

Press Release: SAARC – UNICEF Regional Conference on Scaling-up Care for Children with Severe Wasting in South Asia

2017-05-19

SAARC – UNICEF Regional Conference on Scaling-up Care for Children with Severe Wasting in South Asia concludes

 

A Regional Conference on Scaling-up Care for Children with Severe Wasting in South Asia on the theme “Stop Stunting, No Time to Waste” concluded in Kathmandu yesterday.

 

The three-day Conference, jointly organized by SAARC and UNICEF, was attended by government officials, researchers/academicians and representatives of civil society, development partners and United Nations organizations.

 

The Conference, inaugurated by Honourable Gagan Kumar Thapa, Minister of Health of Nepal is a follow-up to the South Asia Action Framework on Nutrition, which was developed by SAARC and launched in Kathmandu during the Eighteenth SAARC Summit in November 2014.

 

The Conference provided participants the opportunity to understand the situation of acute malnutrition in South Asia and share best practices in terms of care for severely wasted children. Participants had extensive discussions on ways to position the care of children with severe wasting on national and regional agenda.

 

The outcome of the Conference in the form of “Ten Key Messages” calls for stunting and wasting to be addressed with more urgency, to prioritize prevention of both stunting and wasting and to treat severe wasting when prevention fails. It also emphasizes the role of community-based platforms in providing early care.

 

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC addressed the participants both at the Opening and the Closing Sessions of the Conference. He thanked UNICEF ROSA for its support and collaboration. He re-iterated that child nutrition will continue to remain as an important facet of SAARC’s collaboration with UNICEF in their collective efforts to make South Asia a place where every child grows up to their full potential in a healthy and safe environment.

 

 

Kathmandu, 19 May 2017

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Nepal, and SAARC, H. E. Mr. Park Young-sik calls on the Secretary General of SAARC

2017-05-11

PRESS RELEASE

 

The newly appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Nepal, and SAARC, H. E. Mr. Park Young-sik, today called on the Secretary General of SAARC, H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial.

 

The Secretary General welcomed Ambassador Park to the Secretariat, congratulated him on his appointment, and wished him every success in the new assignment in Kathmandu.

 

The Secretary General briefed Ambassador Park about the ongoing collaboration between SAARC and the Republic of Korea as an observer of SAARC. He informed the Ambassador about the directive of the Eighteenth Summit to engage the SAARC Observers into productive, demand-driven and objective project-based cooperation in priority areas as identified by the Member States.

 

Ambassador Park recognized the importance of collaboration between the Republic of Korea and SAARC. He said that as soon as the new Government in Korea is formed, he would take up this matter for identifying projects for the SAARC region.

 

The Secretary General and Ambassador Park also exchanged views on the on-going cooperation among the Member States of SAARC. They particularly discussed measures underway to promote economic relations, connectivity, energy cooperation, and people-to-people contacts in the region.

____

 

Kathmandu,

11 May 2017.

Eleventh Informal Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers held

2017-05-05

Press Note

 

The Eleventh Informal Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers was held in Yokohama, Japan, on 5 May 2017 on the sidelines of the 50th Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank being held on 4-7 May 2017. The Meeting attended by the Hon’ble Finance Ministers/Heads of Delegations from all SAARC Member State was held under the Chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Nepal, Hon’ble Krishna Bahadur Mahara.

 

In his opening statement, Hon’ble Mahara thanked ADB for its continuous support and for making excellent arrangements for the Meeting. He congratulated ADB on its Fiftieth Anniversary. Secretary General of SAARC H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial thanked ADB for its continued support to SAARC in its journey towards regional economic integration, leading to South Asian Economic Union, since the signing of SAARC-ADB MoU in 2004 and hoped that ADB would continue to support SAARC in future as well.

 

During the Open Session of the Meeting, Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President of Asian Development Bank briefed the Meeting about the projects undertaken by ADB in the 50 years of its existence. He stated that ADB has a long and productive partnership with SAARC countries. He informed the Meeting that as of end 2016, ADB’s cumulative assistance to the sub-region totaled $ 108.6 billion, amounting to more than 40% of ADB’s financing operations.  All Finance Ministers/Heads of Delegations briefed the Meeting about the current status of economic progress achieved by them, appreciated the contribution made by ADB in their economic growth and hoped that SAARC would make further progress to achieve its full potential for the benefit of peoples of the region.

***

Secretary General of SAARC calls on His Majesty the King of Bhutan

2017-04-27

 

Press Release issued by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan

 

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is on an introductory visit to Bhutan from 25-28 April 2017.

 

His Majesty the King granted audience to the Secretary General on 27 April, 2017 at Tashichhodzong.

 

The Secretary General also called on Hon’ble Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji and met Foreign Secretary Ambassador Sonam Tshong. During the meetings, both Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary extended warm welcome and congratulated him on his appointment as the new Secretary General of SAARC. They expressed confidence in taking SAARC process forward under his leadership and reaffirmed the Royal Government’s commitment and support to further consolidating regional cooperation and deepening friendship among the SAARC Member States. Views on various activities relating to SAARC and the need to keep the process moving forward were also exchanged during the meetings.

 

The Secretary General also made a familiarization visit to the Secretariat of the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) in Thimphu on 25 April, 2017.

 

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial is from Pakistan and succeeded H.E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa from Nepal. He assumed office as the Secretary General of SAARC on 1 March, 2017.

 

The Secretary General was accompanied by Mr. Sangye Rinchhen, Director at the SAARC Secretariat.

 

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan

The Secretary General of SAARC calls on Hon’ble Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji

2017-04-26

 

Press Release issued by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan

 

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussian B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) called on Hon’ble Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji on 26 April, 2017 at Gyalyong Tshokhang. He also met Foreign Secretary Ambassador Sonam Tshong on 25 April, 2017. They exchanged views on various activities relating to SAARC and the need to keep the process moving forward.

 

The Secretary General is on an introductory visit to Bhutan from 25-28 April 2017. He assumed office as the Secretary General of SAARC on 1 March, 2017. He was accompanied by Mr. Sangye Rinchhen, Director-Bhutan at the SAARC Secretariat.

 

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Foreign Minister of Maldives

2017-04-03

Press Release issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Maldives

 

Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) pays a Courtesy Call on the Minister 

03 April 2017

 

His Excellency Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Asim today.   

 

Minister Asim congratulated H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial on his assignment as the Secretary General of SAARC and expressed desire to see a more active role of SAARC in strengthening the regional cooperation under his leadership.

 

During the meeting, Minister Asim reiterated the support and cooperation of the Government of Maldives to engage constructively with the Secretary General and the Secretariat and offer its full support and cooperation for the progress of the people of South Asia, through SAARC and its various mechanisms.

 

Foreign Minister Dr. Asim was accompanied by His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Khaleel Secretary, Bilateral and Ms. Aishath Azeema, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Secretary General was accompanied by Ms. Fathimath Najwa, Director at the SAARC Secretariat.

 

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldives 

 

ENDS

Secretary General of SAARC calls on President of Maldives

2017-04-03

The new Secretary-General of SAARC pays a courtesy call on the President 
03 April 2017, Ref: 2017-88

Press Release issued by The President’s Office of Maldives

 

The new Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), His Excellency Amjad Hussain B. Sial paid a courtesy call on President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, this morning, at the President’s Office.

 

At the ceremony, the President welcomed the Secretary-General to the Maldives and congratulated him on the assumption of office.

 

During the call, the President expressed hope that under the leadership of the Secretary-General, further upward momentum in SAARC would be gained and maintained, while emphasising that the need to review economic cooperation within SAARC is imperative. He further highlighted on the viable opportunities through SAARC to enhance regional cooperation and integration in areas of mutual interest. The President noted that to achieve the objectives and principles of the SAARC charter, the Association needs to gravitate towards a more forward-looking approach and expressed hope that necessary measures will be taken by the member states to come to an amicable agreement with regard to the SAARC process.

 

The Secretary-General thanked the President for receiving him and expressed pleasure for the opportunity to meet with the President. He also thanked the President for the support and cooperation extended by the Government of Maldives for the progress of the people of South Asia through SAARC and its various mechanisms.

 

The President was accompanied at the call by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E Dr. Mohamed Asim, and the Minister of State for Foreign Relations at the President’s Office, H.E Mr. Mohamed Naseer.

 

Source: The President’s Office, Maldives

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Vice President of Nepal

2017-03-15

PRESS RELEASE

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Vice President of Nepal

 

The Secretary General of SAARC, Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial paid a courtesy call on Rt. Hon. Nanda Bahadur Pun, Vice President of Nepal, on 15 March 2017 at the office of the Vice President.

 

The Secretary General thanked the Government of Nepal for its support in his appointment and a warm welcome extended to him since his arrival at Kathmandu. The Secretary General expressed the hope that Nepal as the current Chair of SAARC will play an active role to reinvigorate the SAARC process. Secretary General Sial informed the Vice President about upcoming SAARC meetings and requested Nepal’s full support.

 

Rt. Hon. Vice President Pun congratulated Mr. Sial on his appointment as the new SAARC Secretary General and wished that with his experience and knowledge SAARC will be able to function more vigorously. He added that Nepal as a founding member of SAARC will continue to play an important role in all SAARC related events and activities and he will advise the line ministries to re-schedule the pending events which Nepal was supposed to host and implement the agreements which his country has signed with more dedication. Rt. Hon. Vice President Pun expressed his hope for the early convening of the 19th SAARC Summit.

***

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Foreign Minister of Nepal

2017-03-09

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

Secretary General of SAARC calls on Foreign Minister of Nepal

 

 

The Secretary General of SAARC, Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial paid a courtesy call on H.E. Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, Foreign Minister of Nepal, on 09 March 2017 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

The Foreign Minister felicitated the Secretary General on his appointment as the thirteenth Secretary General of SAARC. The Secretary General thanked the Government of Nepal for its support in his appointment and a warm welcome extended to him since his arrival at Kathmandu.

 

The Secretary General expressed the hope that he would continue to receive the valuable support of the Government of Nepal in the accomplishment of his important assignment. The Secretary General stated that SAARC can provide an important platform for achieving the objectives of socio-economic development of the region and amelioration of the people, as enshrined in the SAARC Charter. He stressed the need for improving intra-regional connectivity and early implementation of approved activities, especially the Ministerial events. He also sought support of the Government of Nepal, as chair, for strengthening the SAARC process.

 

The Foreign Minister conveyed his good wishes for success of Mr. Sial as Secretary General of SAARC and expressed the hope that his vast diplomatic experience, his previous experience of SAARC serving as the then Director (Pakistan), and expertise in the bilateral and multilateral fora will bring a new spirit in the SAARC Secretariat and will contribute in strengthening the SAARC process. He expressed the hope for the early convening of the 19th SAARC Summit. The Minister assured his full support for the Secretariat in all its endeavours for regional cooperation and expressed his solidarity and commitment for SAARC process.

 

 

Kathmandu.

09 March 2017.

Message on International Women's Day

2017-03-08

 

MESSAGE

FROM

H. E. MR. AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL,

SECRETARY GENERAL OF SAARC

ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

8 MARCH 2017

 

International Women’s Day is marked on 8 March every year as an opportunity for advocacy and creating awareness on issues that affect the lives of women and girls around the globe. This year’s theme is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.

 

Globally, women and girls carry high burden of household work, compared to that of men and boys. While these efforts are generally unrecognized, unrewarded and taken for granted, what is most worrisome is that they diminish opportunities for women and girls. These hours of household work tend to reduce their opportunities for learning, paid work, sports, engagement in civic or community leadership and contribution to the formal economy.

           

Worldwide, only 50 per cent of working age women are represented in the labour force, compared to 76 percent of men. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of working women are concentrated in low-pay and low-skill occupations.

 

The world of work is changing rapidly, with technological advances and globalization. However, to a great extent, women have been left on the sidelines with no access to the opportunities brought about by these advancements. It is, therefore, a responsibility of governments, international organisations, the civil society and individuals alike, to step up efforts to achieve gender equality at work place and elsewhere to ensure that women too reap the full benefit of the unprecedented opportunities brought about by the changing world of work.

 

Since its inception, issues related to women have figured prominently on the SAARC agenda. Moreover, during successive Summit meetings, the SAARC Leaders have unequivocally expressed firm commitment to amleliorate the condition of women and girls across the region. In line with the Leaders’ directive, the internalised version of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), namely, the SAARC Development Goals (SDGs), contain four Goals devoted to the cause of women. In the meanwhile, established in 2015, the SAARC Gender Policy Advocacy Group  (SAARC GPAG) is currently working on developing a three-year Action Plan for the Member States. For the first time in SAARC, this Action Plan is intended to address “Recognition of the female heads of households, unpaid care work and women in the agriculture sector” as a strategic action area.

 

As we observe the International Women’s Day today, I reiterate SAARC’s commitment to achieve Gender Equality across South Asia. I would also like to take this opportunity to call upon all the stakeholders to accelerate efforts for Gender Equality towards a Planet 50-50 by 2030, by ensuring that the world of work, works for all women as well.

 

 

 

 

Amjad Hussain B. Sial

Secretary General, SAARC

Kathmandu, 08 March 2017

 

SCCI Delegation calls on SAARC Secretary General

2017-03-06

PRESS RELEASE

 

SCCI DELEGATION CALLS ON SECRETARY GENERAL, SAARC

 

An eight-member delegation of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI)-Nepal Chapter led by Mr. Suraj Vaidya, President, SCCI, called on H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC. 

 

On behalf of the SCCI, Mr. Vaidya congratulated Ambassador Sial on his assumption of charge as the thirteenth Secretary-General of SAARC and wished him every success in this important assignment. 

 

During the meeting, Mr. Vaidya shared with the Secretary-General the primary goal of the SCCI, which is to promote regional economic integration with particular emphasis on the promotion of people-to-people contacts, regional connectivity and tourism. He also shared with the Secretary General upcoming activities of the SCCI.  

 

Ambassador Sial appreciated the SCCI for the useful work it had been doing since its establishment as an Apex Body of SAARC. He emphasized that the promotion of people-to-people contacts will create space and facilitate closer cooperation among the SAARC Member States.  He assured that the SAARC Secretariat will extend its full cooperation to the SCCI in promoting the economic agenda of SAARC.

 

***

 

 

6 March 2017

SAARC Secretary General, addresses the First Meeting of the South Asia Parliamentarians Platform for Children, in Kathmandu

2017-03-03

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

SAARC Secretary General, addresses the First Meeting of
the South Asia Parliamentarians Platform for Children, in Kathmandu

 

 

Secretary General of SAARC, H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, this morning addressed the First Meeting of the South Asia Parliamentarians Platform for Children, being held in Kathmandu. The two-day Meeting organized by UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (UNICEF ROSA), from 2-3 March 2017, is attended by parliamentarians from Member States of SAARC.

 

Speaking on the theme, “Making SDGs work for children in South Asia” the Secretary General noted that the presence of the parliamentarians from all SAARC countries at the Meeting is testimony to the importance South Asia attaches to the well-being of children.

 

In his address, the Secretary General, while emphasizing the importance SAARC attaches to its agenda on children, highlighted major mechanisms and initiatives such as the SAARC’s Social Charter, Declarations of the SAARC Summits, Ministerial Statements, the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child and its two major Conventions related to children, namely, Convention on Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution and Convention on Regional Arrangement for the Promotion of Child Welfare. He also highlighted important areas related to children on which SAARC is collaborating with UNICEF, such as nutrition, sanitation, children affected by HIV & AIDS and children in disasters.

 

While noting the tremendous progress achieved by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in addressing many issues affecting the lives of children, the Secretary General observed that this progress was uneven and more importantly, there were thousands of children, who were left out or left behind. He noted that the transformational, ambitious, yet more inclusive global agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have aspired to change the fate of those left behind.

 

In his address, Secretary General Sial, stressed five important points for consideration while working to achieve the SDGs, in order to ensure that children are put at the center of the SDGs agenda. These are: among competing objectives policies must be prioritized for resources and investment for children; issues affecting children must not be addressed in isolation and all efforts should be well-coordinated across sectors; partnerships must be sought in order to create opportunities for win-win situations; out-of-the-box solutions should be explored to mobilize resources and investment to make policies targeted at the most vulnerable and marginalized; an actionable plan be prepared for our vision, to ensure that the vision does not remain merely a dream.

 

The Secretary General expressed his belief that parliamentarians of South Asia, as key policy makers are placed at the center stage of our efforts to transform the lives of the South Asian children for the better. He also stressed the importance of a platform like this, which gives a great opportunity to reflect on experiences, learn from each other, and commit ourselves to do more, together. He expressed his hope that the positive outcome of the Meeting will be a guiding force, for efforts towards making the world a better place for our children. Mr. Sial assured full cooperation of SAARC Secretariat in this respect.

 

 

 

Kathmandu, 03 March 2017

Appointment of the New Secretary General, 01 March 2017

2017-03-01

Press Release

H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial has assumed

charge of the office of Secretary General of SAARC from 01 March 2017, on completion of the tenure of former Secretary General.

Mr. Sial is a seasoned diplomat from Pakistan Foreign Service with a career spanning over 33 years. He has Masters degree in Defense and Strategic Studies from National Defense University, Islamabad. He has a rich experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy both at Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad and Missions abroad. He was Director (Pakistan) from 2003-2006, at SAARC Secretariat Kathmandu.

Secretary General Sial served as Ambassador of Pakistan to the Republic of Tajikistan from 2011-2014 and Ambassador/Alternate Permanent Representative at Pakistan Mission to the United Nations, New York. Before joining SAARC Secretariat he was Special Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad.

 

Kathmandu.

01 March 2017

53rd Session of the Programming Committee, 1-2 February 2017

2017-02-02

SAARC SECRETARIAT

KATHMANDU

PRESS RELEASE

The two-day Meeting of the 53rd Session of the SAARC Programming Committee concluded in Kathmandu today. The Meeting was chaired by Mr. Mani Prasad Bhattarai, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal.   All SAARC Member States participated in the Meeting.

In his opening address yesterday, H.E Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Secretary General of SAARC highlighted the progress made by SAARC since the last meeting held in Pokhara in March 2016. As the Secretary General is completing his term of office as the 12th Secretary General of SAARC on 28 February 2017, he thanked all the Member States for extending their unflinching support and cooperation in discharge of his responsibilities during his tenure. He expressed satisfaction over having the opportunity to head the Association during the past three years and working for the peoples of the region as mandated by the SAARC Charter.

As one of the Charter bodies entrusted primarily with the responsibility to deal with the administrative and financial matters of the SAARC Secretariat and its Bodies, the Committee also considered the reports emanating from the various SAARC Bodies.

The Meeting delegations were led by Joint Secretaries/Directors General of SAARC/Regional Organizations divisions of the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs of the SAARC Member States. Directors of the SAARC Regional Centres and Heads of the SAARC Specialized Bodies also attended the meeting.

 

2 February 2017

*****

Secretary-General calls on the Vice President of Maldives

2016-09-28

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, paid a courtesy call on H. E. Mr. Mohamed Waheed Deen, Vice President of the Republic of Maldives at the President’s Office in Malé on 27 September 2012. The Secretary-General was visiting Malé in connection with the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Interior or Home hosted by Maldives.

During the meeting with the Vice President, the Secretary-General apprised the dignitary on the ongoing activities of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), with a particular focus on measures aimed at implementing the decisions of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in Addu City of Maldives in November 2011. The Summit bore the theme, Building Bridges.

 At the meeting, the Secretary-General also briefed the Vice President on the progress achieved in the preparation of a comprehensive Study aimed at strengthening SAARC mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies. For the first time in the history of the Association, the Member States have entrusted the Secretariat with the responsibility of undertaking such an important Study, which will be placed before the inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers to be hosted by Maldives in February/March 2013.

Thirty First Charter Day Celebrated

2015-12-08

H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), hosted a Reception this evening to commemorate the Thirty-first SAARC Charter Day.

The Rt. Hon. Nanda Babadur Pun, Vice President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal graced the occasion as Chief Guest.

Since the establishment of the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu in 1987, it has been customary for the Secretary-General to host such an event every year to mark the Charter Day.

The Reception organized at Hotel Radisson in Kathmandu to mark the Thirty-first SAARC Charter Day brought together the Ministers, Secretaries and high officials from the Government; Heads of Diplomatic Missions, and regional and international organizations based in Kathmandu; representatives of civil society; entrepreneurs from the business community; and people from various walks of life.

SAARC was launched at the first-ever Summit meeting of the Heads of State or Government held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, following a series of brainstorming sessions among the Senior Officials, Foreign Secretaries and Foreign Ministers of its Member States.  As defined in its Charter, the principal objectives of the Association are to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life through accelerated economic cooperation, social progress and cultural development in the region.

SAARC is a regional organization born out of the consciousness that in an increasingly interdependent world, the objectives of peace, freedom, social justice and economic prosperity are best achieved in the South Asian region by fostering mutual understanding, good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation among the Member States, which are bound by ties of history and culture.    

SAARC has witnessed eighteen Summit meetings so far, with the last one held in Kathmandu, Nepal, in November 2014, under the theme, Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity. Pakistan will play host to the Nineteenth SAARC Summit during the last quarter of 2016.

SAARC comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as members.

SAARC-CIRDAP MoU Signed

2015-11-30
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to foster collaboration between the two organizations in mutually agreed areas. 
 
SAARC comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as its members, while CIRDAP consists of six SAARC Countries (excepting Bhutan and the Maldives) as well as Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, with its headquarters based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
 
H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, and Dr. Cecep Effendi, Director-General of CIRDAP inked the Memorandum of Understanding at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu today. The present MoU replaces the erstwhile MoU signed in 2007 that expired in 2010.
 
The MoU signed today stands to open up a vista of opportunities for both the organizations to complement each other’s efforts in rural development and implement joint projects.  Prospective areas of cooperation outlined in the MoU include: rural development and women empowerment through agro-processing, promoting inter-regional trade in agricultural products, adopting techniques of climate smart agriculture,  generating user friendly database on rural statistics, establishing a virtual and multi-stakeholder supported Rural Development Information System (RDIS), formulating and implementing strategic Action Plan for rural development in the region and adopting an Integrated Rural Development Policy for South Asia.  
 
CIRDAP was established in 1979 in Dhaka to assist its membership in national action, promote regional cooperation and act as a servicing institution for the promotion of integrated rural development in the Asia Pacific region. SAARC came into existence in 1985 with the principal objectives of promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and improving their quality of life by accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region. 

SECRETARY-GENERAL OF SAARC VISITS AFGHANISTAN

2015-09-09

 H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid courtesy calls on Afghan dignitaries on 2nd and 3rd September 2015 during his visit to Afghanistan in connection with the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation on Afghanistan (RECCA-VI), “The Silk Road through Afghanistan” held in Kabul on 3-4 September 2015.

 

During his calls on H.E. Dr. Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and H. E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC, while thanking the high dignitaries for receiving him, stated that it was his long-cherished wish to visit Afghanistan.  He also briefed the dignitaries on the current status of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC with particular reference to regional connectivity and economic integration.  Recalling the signing of the Inter-governmental Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation during the last SAARC Summit, H. E. the Secretary-General requested esteemed Government of Afghanistan to complete internal procedures to make the Agreement to come into effect. He also requested Afghanistan to speed up the process of ratification of other SAARC agreements, especially, the SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters. 

 

H. E. the Secretary-General expressed appreciation to Afghanistan for playing its due role in contributing towards the objectives of SAARC since its joining the Association in April 2007.  He also thanked Afghanistan for holding a number of important meetings as well as for its offers to hold SAFTA meetings during October 2015. 

 H.E. the President of Afghanistan Dr. Ashraf Ghani expressed his Government’s unflinching commitment towards meeting all the obligations arising out of the legal instruments adopted by SAARC. He also conveyed his deep condolences to the Government and people of Nepal over the losses caused by the devastating earthquake. He expressed his confidence that the government and people of Nepal will successfully cope with the aftermath of the disaster.

 The Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, while terming regional and international cooperation a vital factor in the prosperity of Afghanistan, reaffirmed Afghanistan’s support and commitment to SAARC.  

 While in Kabul, H. E. the Secretary-General met H. E. Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan over a luncheon during which they exchanged views on SAARC-related issues.

 H.E. the Secretary General of SAARC also met H.E. Mr. Satar Murad, Minister of Economy of Afghanistan and H.E. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Deputy Foreign Minister and exchanged views on matters of common concern.

 On 4 September, H.E. the Secretary-General addressed the Plenary Session of the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference. In his Address, he touched upon the initiatives taken by SAARC in areas as trade, economy, finance, energy, connectivity, among others. He said, “I believe that the RECCA-VI is being convened at an opportune moment as Afghanistan prepares to fully integrate itself not only into the SAARC process but also into Central Asia.  I am confident that the RECCA-VI will prove very useful in reviewing the progress made since it was initiated in 2005. It will also help Afghanistan respond to the emerging opportunities.”

SG calls on Foreign Secretary of India

2014-12-24

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) called on H. E. Ms. Sujatha Singh, Foreign Secretary of India at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi today.

During the meeting, the Secretary-General appraised the Foreign Secretary about the current status of regional cooperation under SAARC. He also briefed the Foreign Secretary about the issues to be discussed during the Inter Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers scheduled for 17-20 February 2014 in the Maldives.   

Ms. Sripriya Ranganathan, Joint Secretary, SAARC Division at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi and Mrs. L. Savithri, Director, SAARC Secretariat, were also present at the meeting.

Afghan Ambassador calls on H.E. SG

2014-12-18

Afghan Ambassador, Shaida Mohammad Abdali calls on Secretary General

Ambassador of Afghanistan H. E. Mr. Shaida Muhamad Abdali paid a courtesy call on H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC on 18 December 2014 at the SAARC Secretariat.

H. E. Mr. Abdali congratulated H. E. the Secretary General of SAARC on the successful conclusion of the Eighteenth SAARC Summit and its preceding meetings, particularly on signing the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity). He wished for successful implementation of the decisions taken during the Summit, expressed the need to empower the Secretariat, and emphasized on learning from successful stories and experiences of other similar organizations such as EU. 

H. E. Mr. Abdali emphasized on the importance of security and collective efforts to resolve conflicts in the region. He also stressed on the communalities among the Member States that augured well for ensuring peace and harmony in the region. He pointed out the significance of the geographic location of Afghanistan for connecting South Asia.

H. E. Mr. Abdali expressed the eagerness of Afghanistan in hosting a SAARC Regional Centre to strengthen its sense of ownership over SAARC. He also pointed out that TAPI, a mega-project which was signed among Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in 2012, aimed at boosting peace and stability through regional energy cooperation, can be a threshold in transforming the South Asian region. With three SAARC Member Countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, already on board, and with the rest of South Asian countries showing interest to join the project, it can provide the ground for a collective venture. 

H.E. the Secretary General, while thanking the Ambassador Abdali for his visit, expressed deep appreciation for Afghan Government’s contribution in advancing the agenda of SAARC.  He also stressed on the need for improving intra-regional connectivity by signing Motor Vehicles and Railways Agreements.

Mr. Mohammad Ibrahim Ghafoori, Director, SAARC Secretariat and and Mr. Sayed Mujtaba Ahmadi, Economic Counselor, Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi were also present at the meeting

Thirtieth Charter Day Press Release

2014-12-08

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) commemorated its Thirtieth Charter Day today, 8 December 2014.

 

            The Heads of State or Government and Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs of SAARC Member States issued special messages in commemoration of the Charter Day. H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC also issued a dedicatory message on the occasion.

 

            SAARC Regional Centres, Specialized Bodies of SAARC, SAARC Apex and Recognized Bodies and SAARC Secretariat observed the Thirtieth SAARC Charter Day by organizing various commemorative events.

 

            As per tradition, H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, hosted a Reception at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu this evening to mark the Thirtieth SAARC Charter Day. Graced by the Rt. Hon. Parmananda Jha, Vice President of Nepal as Chief Guest, the event was attended by a large number of dignitaries and high-ranking officials from the Government of Nepal, representatives of the diplomatic corps in Kathmandu, and people representing the civil society, business community and the media.

 

            Addressing the gathering present on the occasion, H. E. Mr. Thapa said, “Tonight’s event takes place barely ten days after the Eighteenth SAARC Summit. This event this evening is a fitting occasion for all of us to rejoice the successful conclusion of the Eighteenth Summit.” In his brief address, H. E. Mr. Thapa highlighted the major issues emanating from the Eighteenth Summit.

 

            The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) came into being on 8 December 1985 with the adoption of its Charter by the Heads of State or Government of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined SAARC in April 2007 as the eighth member.

 

            A forum of eight countries in South Asia that are bound by ties of history and culture, SAARC is a tangible manifestation of the determination of its Member States to promote peace, stability, amity and progress in the region through strict adherence to the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, national independence, non-use of force and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and peaceful settlement of disputes. SAARC aims to promote peace, freedom, social justice and economic prosperity by fostering mutual understanding, good neighborly relations and meaningful cooperation among its Member States. Its Secretariat is based in Kathmandu.

18th SAARC Summit Declaration

2014-11-27

Eighteenth SAARC Summit

Kathmandu, Nepal

26-27 November 2014

 

KATHMANDU DECLARATION

 

"Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity”

 

The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf  Ghani; the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina; the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan His Excellency Tshering Tobgay; the Prime Minister of the Republic of India His Excellency Narendra Modi; the President of the Republic of the Maldives His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom; the Prime Minister of Nepal Right Honourable Sushil Koirala; the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan His Excellency Muhammad Nawaz Sharif; and the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa;

 Having met at the Eighteenth Summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held in Kathmandu, Nepal on November 26-27, 2014;

 Reaffirming their commitment to the principles and objectives of SAARC for ensuring the welfare and quality of life of the peoples of South Asia;

 Recognizing that after nearly thirty years of its existence, it is time to reinvigorate SAARC’s regional cooperation and revitalize SAARC as an effective vehicle to fulfill the developmental aspirations of the peoples of South Asia;

 Determined to deepen regional integration for peace and prosperity by promoting mutual trust, amity, understanding, cooperation and partnership;

 Declared as follows:

 Regional cooperation

 1.The Heads of State or Government expressed their strong determination to deepen regional integration for peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia by intensifying cooperation, inter alia, in trade, investment, finance, energy, security, infrastructure, connectivity and culture; and implementing projects, programmes and activities in a prioritized, result-oriented and time-bound manner.

 South Asian Economic Union (SAEU)

 2.The Leaders renewed their commitment to achieve South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) in a phased and planned manner through a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market, and a Common Economic and Monetary Union.

 3.The Leaders acknowledged that SAARC Member States, particularly the Least Developed and Landlocked Member States, face structural constraints and challenges that result in their weak productive capacity affecting their competitiveness in external trade due to, among others, high trade and transit cost. They committed to enhance support to the Least Developed and Landlocked Member States in their development efforts, with a view to ensuring equitable benefits of free trade arrangements. In this context, they agreed to effectively implement the existing preferential facilities under SAFTA and SATIS.

 SAFTA and Trade Facilitation

 4.Directed SAFTA Ministerial Council and SAFTA Committee of Experts to accelerate free trade in goods and services in the region putting into operation simplified and transparent rules of origin; implementation of trade facilitation measures; harmonization of standards relating to Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures; harmonized, streamlined and simplified customs procedures; elimination of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers; and smooth and efficient transit and transport facilities.  They also called for early operationalization of SATIS by finalizing the schedule of commitments.

5.They called for timely and comprehensive reforms of the global economic and financial architecture to make it inclusive and responsive to the needs of Least Developed, Land-locked, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

 6.They reaffirmed that SIDS would require special attention in view of their unique circumstances and particular vulnerabilities in realization of sustainable development.

 SAARC Development Fund

 7.They agreed to strengthen the Social Window of the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) and operationalize its Economic Window and Infrastructure Window at the earliest for effective implementation of regional and sub-regional projects. In that context, they stressed on expeditious development of projects under SDF addressing the livelihood issues of the peoples of the region. They agreed to expand the Governing Board of SDF by including a representative of the National Focal Point of the Member States.

 Connectivity

 8.The Heads of State or Government welcomed the significant progress towards finalization of the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement and agreed to hold a Meeting of the Transport Ministers within three months in order to finalize the Agreements for approval.  They renewed their commitment to substantially enhance regional connectivity in a seamless manner through building and upgrading roads, railways, waterways infrastructure, energy grids, communications and air links to ensure smooth cross-border flow of goods, services, capital, technology and people. The leaders emphasized the need for linking  South Asia with contiguous regions, including Central Asia, and beyond by all modes of connectivity and directed relevant authorities to initiate national, regional and sub regional measures and necessary arrangements.

Energy

 9.The Leaders directed the relevant SAARC bodies and mechanisms to identify regional and sub-regional projects in the area of power generation, transmission and power trade, including hydropower, natural gas, solar, wind and bio-fuel, and implement them with high priority with a view to meeting the increasing demand for power in the region.  The Leaders welcomed the signing of the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity).

Poverty Alleviation

 10.The Leaders reiterated their strong commitment to free South Asia from poverty and directed the Ministerial and Secretary-level mechanisms on poverty alleviation to review the progress and revisit the SAARC Plan of Action and its effective implementation, also taking into account the Post-2015 Development Agenda.  

 11.They recognized the potential of cooperatives in achieving inclusive, broad-based and sustainable economic growth and development, and called for sharing of experiences, expertise and best practices in this sector.

 Post-2015 Development Goals

 12.The Leaders recognized that the Post-2015 Development Agenda, following its adoption at the UN, would present opportunities to compliment national and regional efforts on sustainable development. They directed to initiate an Inter-Governmental process to appropriately contextualize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the regional level.

 Agriculture and Food Security

13.The Heads of State or Government agreed to increase investment, promote research and development, facilitate technical cooperation and apply innovative, appropriate and reliable technologies in the agriculture sector for enhancing productivity to ensure food and nutritional security in the region. They also underscored the importance of promoting sustainable agriculture. The Leaders directed to eliminate the threshold criteria from the SAARC Food Bank Agreement so as to enable the Member States to avail food grains, during both emergency and normal time food difficulty. The Leaders urged for early ratification of the SAARC Seed Bank Agreement and directed to constitute the Seed Bank Board, pending completion of ratification by all Member States. The Leaders also directed the relevant SAARC bodies to finalize the establishment of Regional Vaccine Bank and Regional Livestock Gene Bank.

 Environment

 14.They directed the relevant bodies/mechanisms for effective implementation of SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters, SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment and Thimphu Statement on Climate Change, including taking into account the existential threats posed by climate change to some SAARC Member States. They welcomed the decision to establish the SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre. The Leaders underlined the urgency for the global community to arrive at a Protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all by the end of 2015, based on the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), Respective Capabilities and Equity under the UNFCCC.

Blue Economy

 15.They recognized the manifold contributions of ocean-based Blue Economy in the SAARC Region and the need for collaboration and partnership in this area.

 Health

 16.The Leaders recognized the importance of achieving universal health coverage (UHC), improving health regulatory systems, preparedness for emerging and remerging diseases, and the challenges posed by anti-microbial resistance and non-communicable diseases. They endorsed the Male’ Resolution on Regional Health Issues adopted at the Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Health Ministers. They urged to continue the remarkable progress by SAARC countries in the last decade in response to AIDS with the aim to end AIDS epidemic in the region by 2030. They also directed to complete all necessary processes for upgrading the SAARC TB Reference Laboratory at SAARC TB and HIV/AIDS Centre (STAC), Kathmandu to Supra-national Reference Laboratory with necessary funding from SDF.

 Education

 17.The Heads of State or Government expressed their resolve to eliminating illiteracy from the region in line with the global goal of education for all and ensuring quality education in all institutions by reforming curricula, teaching methods and evaluation systems adequately supported by physical, technical and other facilities. The leaders agreed to promote regional cooperation in the field of vocational education and training. They directed their Education Ministers to develop a Regional Strategy for Enhancing the Quality of Education in order to raise the standards of South Asian educational institutions in order to better serve the youth in the region. The Leaders welcomed the progress with regard to the South Asian University.

 Youth

 18.They emphasized the need for adopting appropriate national policies and programmes for utilizing the youth force and their skills for economic and social development, especially through the creation of productive self-employment opportunities. The Leaders welcomed the declaration of July 15 as the World Youth Skills Day at the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly and agreed to commemorate, as appropriate, the said event by SAARC. 

 Women and Children

 

19.They directed the relevant authorities to take effective measures for preventing the trafficking in women and children and their exploitation.

 Social Protection

 20.The Leaders acknowledged the special needs of the elderly, women, children, differently-abled persons, unemployed persons, and persons working at hazardous sites and agreed to develop and strengthen social protection for them and to share best practices in this regard.

 Migration

 21.They also agreed to collaborate and cooperate on safe, orderly and responsible management of labour migration from South Asia to ensure safety, security and wellbeing of their migrant workers in the destination countries outside the region.

 Science and Technology

 22.The Leaders agreed to develop capacity of the Member States to apply space technology for socio-economic development and the welfare of the peoples through experience sharing among themselves. In this context, they welcomed the offer of India to develop and launch a satellite dedicated to SAARC Countries.

 Telecommunication

 

23.The Leaders directed for collaboration and engagement among public authorities and private stakeholders in the Member States to lower telephone tariff rates for facilitating greater contacts among the people of the region and called for rationalization of the tariff structures.

 Tourism

 24.The Leaders expressed their resolve for making South Asia an attractive common tourist destination in a sustainable manner. They directed relevant bodies to effectively implement SAARC Action Plan on Tourism (2006) particularly through initiating appropriate public-private collaboration. They also called for effective and full implementation of their existing decision to charge nationals of SAARC Member States fees for entry into archaeological and heritage sites as applicable to their own nationals.

 Culture

 25.They directed to effectively implement the SAARC Agenda for Culture and agreed to take measures to preserve and restitute the South Asian cultural property and create a SAARC heritage list together with the operational guidelines.   They declared the year 2016 as the SAARC Year of Cultural Heritage and tasked the relevant bodies to develop an action plan for its success.  They also agreed to develop a cultural trail linking major Buddhist historical sites in the region. The Leaders further agreed to facilitate access of persons visiting prominent and holy sites of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and all other major religions in South Asia.

 Media

 26.The Leaders, recognizing the reach and influence of media, urged both public and private media to share responsibility in the efforts towards promoting understanding and cohesiveness of the SAARC Member States and their peoples.

 Combating Terrorism and trans-national Crimes

 27.The Leaders unequivocally condemned terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations and underlined the need for effective cooperation among the Member States to combat them. They directed respective authorities to ensure full and effective implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol, including through enacting necessary legislations at the national level to root out terrorism. They reiterated their call for an early conclusion of a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. They agreed to take effective measures to combat illicit trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances, arms smuggling, money laundering, counterfeit currency and other transnational crimes. They also agreed to establish a cyber crime monitoring desk.

 Governance

 28.They reiterated their strong commitment to ensure good governance for sustainable development by promoting accountability, transparency, the rule of law and people's participation at all levels of governance.

 29.The Leaders, while expressing satisfaction over steady progress in democratization in South Asia, committed to further promote and institutionalize peace, stability, democracy and development as the common aspirations of the peoples of South Asia. In this context, they agreed on the need for cooperation and collaboration within SAARC on issues of common interest and concern to Member States.

 Strengthening SAARC processes

 30.The Heads of State or Government acknowledged the need to enhance the visibility and stature of SAARC in international fora by, inter alia, forging common positions on issues of mutual interest and seeking group recognition in various multilateral institutions.

 31.The Leaders directed all SAARC bodies, including the Council of Ministers, sectoral Ministerial, other bodies and institutions to develop outcome-oriented policies, programmes, projects, and activities.  The Leaders directed rationalization of the work of the SAARC mechanisms, which could  be reviewed inter-governmentally every three years by a regular session of the Standing Committee with a view to evaluate performance, achievements and constraints.

 32.The Leaders agreed to enhance the role of the Secretariat, commensurate with the objectives of SAARC, its areas of cooperation as well as the decisions and agreements reached in the past. They committed to enhance the institutional capacity of the SAARC Secretariat, in keeping with emerging realities, to enable it to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to it, in an effective and efficient manner.

 33.The Leaders expressed satisfaction on the decision to rationalize the number and activities of SAARC Regional Centers through their selective closure and merger.  They reiterated their resolve to make the remaining SAARC Regional Centres and specialized institutions efficient, effective and result-oriented and directed these institutions to initiate programmes and projects that produce tangible outcomes.

 34.They agreed to hold henceforth the meetings of the SAARC Summit every two years or earlier, if necessary, the Council of Ministers once a year, the Standing Committee at least once a year, and the Programming Committee at least twice a year. They also agreed to make the Programming Committee a Charter body of SAARC.

SAARC Observers

 35.They welcomed the participation of Observers from Australia, the People's Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mauritius, the Union of Myanmar, the United States of America, and the European Union at the Summit. 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 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.

 Nineteenth Summit

 36.The Leaders welcomed the offer of the Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan to host the Nineteenth Summit of SAARC.

SG address the Informal Meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers in New York

2014-10-07

SAARC Foreign Ministers met informally in New York on 25 September 2014 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Dr. Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Environment and Energy and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives chaired the informal meeting organized by the Permanent Mission of Maldives in New York. Nepal holds the Chair of SAARC following its Seventeenth Summit in November 2014.

Opening the meeting, the Chairperson highlighted the important initiatives taken by Nepal in the implementation of the decisions of the eighteenth Summit.

Addressing the meeting, the Secretary-General briefed on current status of implementation of important decisions at the Thirty-fifth Session of the Council of Ministers. Further, he focused on progress in key areas of cooperation among the SAARC Member States since Thirty-fifth Session of Council of Ministers in Maldives, 20 February 2014. He also appraised the recommendations made in the Forty –sixth Meeting of the Programming Committee in Kathmandu and also regarding selective closure/merger of SAARC Regional Centres and Foty-seventh Sessions of the Programming Committee in Kathmandu regarding Engagement with observers.

Following the presentation by the Secretary-General, the Ministers deliberated upon several measures on current status of progress in different areas of regional cooperation in SAARC (since Thirty –fifth Session of the Council of Ministers, expeditious implementation of decisions taken by the SAARC Charter Bodies, including the SAARC Ministerial Meetings and The Eighteenth SAARC Summit and Thirty –sixth Session of the Council of Ministers- Brief by the host country about preparations.

The closing remarks were made by the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers. 

SG's call on Asstt. SG, UNDP

2014-10-07

H. E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) called on Mr. Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary General UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at UN Office in New York today.

During the meeting, the Secretary –General appraised the Assistant Secretary General about SAARC – UNDP Cooperation. He also briefed the Assistant Secretary General about the long standing cooperation between SAARC and UNDP.

The discussion between SAARC Secretary General and UN Assistant Secretary General also focused on SAARC- UNDP collaboration particularly in SAARC Development Goals and the area of Poverty Alleviation. Further, the discussion was also held in the subject matter of SAARC- UNDP cooperation in post 2015 development framework.

H.E. SG's Introductory Visit to the Maldives

2014-08-23

H.E.Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, has undertaken an introductory visit to the Maldives from 19 to 21August 2014.

During the visit, H.E. Mr. Thapacalled on H.E. Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of Maldives and briefed the president on the status of preparations for the 18th SAARC Summit, scheduled to be held in Nepal in the latter half of November. Discussions were held on reinvigorating SAARC and making SAARC more relevant and effective, through deeper and more meaningful regional integration. In this regard, President Yameen expressed his keenness to work with the Secretariat and the Member States of SAARC to produce favorable results from existing mechanisms such as SAFTA, as per the expectations of the peoples of the region.                                                                                                                                                    

H.E. Mr. Thapa also held discussions with H.E. Ms. DunyaMaumoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Dr. Ali Naseer Mohamed, Foreign Secretary. The meetings focused on a way forward for SAARC under the Chairmanship of the Maldives, in the activities leading to the 18th Summit. Foreign Minister and the Foreign Secretary briefed the Secretary General on Maldives’ preparations on hosting an Informal Meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers, on the Sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

H. E. the Foreign Secretary of Maldives hosted a lunch in honour of H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC and his spouse on 20 August.

During the visit, H.E. Mr. Thapa also met with Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Former Secretary General of SAARC.

H. E. the Secretary-General was accompanied his spouse, Mrs. PabitraThapa and Ms. Fathimath Najwa, Director at the SAARC.

H.E Secretary General's Introductory Visit to Sri Lanka

2014-08-11

SAARC Secretary General today briefed President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the present status of the organisation with special reference to the preparations being made for the November Summit in Nepal. 

SAARC Secretary General Arjun B. Thapa, who is on his first visit to Sri Lanka since taking office, called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the President’s House in Kandy this morning.

President Rajapaksa informed the Secretary General that Sri Lanka was looking forward to participating in the 18th SAARC Summit, to be held in Kathmandu in November this year.

President Rajapaksa proposed two specific initiatives for consideration by SAARC member countries.

The President stressed the importance of SAARC organising a youth forum to bring together young people in the region in order to address issues that impact youth in this part of the world.

President Rajapaksa also proposed a programme to develop a circuit that would promote connectivity with regard to religious and cultural places of interest in the SAARC region.

The discussion between the President and the Secretary General also focused on the renewed interest among members in further strengthening SAARC within the region while also establishing itself as a contributor to the economic prosperity not only in South Asia but also in the international arena.

Dr. Amitava Bandopadhyay calls on H.E. SG

2014-06-17

Dr. Amitava Bandopadhyay, Chief Scientist and Head, International Science & Technology Affairs Directorate, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi paid a courtesy call on H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, at the SAARC Secretariat today.

During the meeting, Dr. Bandopadhyay presented a brief overview to H.E. Secretary-General about the activities undertaken by CSIR through its 37 research laboratories in India.  He also discussed the concept of developing regional SAARC projects by using the expertise available with the CSIR in the areas like (i) Arsenic free drinking water for rural masses (ii) developing marketable products from medicinal and aromatic plants through regional value chains and (iii) development of traditional knowledge digital library for the SAARC Region.  The Secretary-General mentioned that CSIR may develop Concept Notes on projects which are of common concern for the region and beneficial for the upliftment of the masses within the SAARC Region, for taking it to the Member States for their consideration.

Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, was present at the meeting.

H.E. Ms. Fatema Z. Sumar calls on H.E. SGH. E.

2014-06-16

H. E. Ms. Fatema Z. Sumar, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the U. S. Department of State called on H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC at the SAARC Secretariat today.

The visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State conveyed to H. E. Mr. Thapa the best wishes of H. E. Mr. John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State for a successful tenure as the Secretary-General of SAARC.

During the meeting, H. E. the Secretary-General apprised the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the current status of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC, with particular reference to intra-regional trade and connectivity.

The visiting dignitary expressed the keen interest of the United States of America to engage actively with SAARC as an observer state. The United States became an observer to SAARC at the Fourteenth SAARC Summit held in New Delhi in April 2007.

Matters pertaining to the Eighteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Nepal in November 2014 also figured during the discussions.

H. E. Ms. Sumar was accompanied by H. E. Mr. Peter W. Bodde, Ambassador of the United States of America to Nepal.

Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, was present at the meeting.

H.E. SG's introductory visit to Pakistan

2014-06-03

H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid an introductory visit to Pakistan from 2 to 3 June 2014.

During the visit, H. E. the Secretary-General called on H. E. Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; H. E. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs; and H. E. Mr. Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.

During H. E. the Secretary-General’s call on H. E. Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister, the Prime Minister highlighted that Pakistan values SAARC as a dynamic regional platform for building economic synergies, deepening regional integration and bringing the people of South Asia together. H. E. the Secretary-General expressed encouragement over the Prime Minister’s recent visit to India and hoped that this visit would give further impetus to the SAARC process.

During H. E. the Secretary-General’s call on H. E. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, the Advisor reiterated that Pakistan is fully committed to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter to promote the welfare of the people of this region through effective regional integration. He further stated that Pakistan is a vibrant member of SAARC and hoped that despite several impediments, SAARC will become a catalyst for regional development.

H. E. the Foreign Secretary hosted a luncheon in honour of H. E. the Secretary-General which was also attended by Envoys from the SAARC Member States based in Islamabad, Federal Secretaries, Directors from three SAARC Regional Centres and high officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the calls on the high dignitaries, H. E. the Secretary-General apprised them of the current status of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC with particular reference to intra-regional connectivity and economic integration. H. E. the Secretary General briefed them about the follow-up on the decisions taken during the recently concluded Inter-summit Session (the Maldives, 20 February 2014), inter-alia, including preparation of the Terms of Reference to conduct a Study to review and analyze existing engagements and experiences with Observers and to make a proposal on the establishment of dialogue partnership and preparation of the performance matrix/fact sheet on the functioning of each Regional Centre.

H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC was accompanied by his spouse, Mrs. Pabitra Thapa and Mr. Ahmar Ismail, Director, SAARC Secretariat, during the visit.


Condolence Message

2014-05-21 SAARC Secretariat pays tribute to Late Krishna Maharjan

The SAARC Secretariat held a condolence meeting at its premises in Kathmandu today to pay homage to late Krishna Maharjan. He passed away on 19 May 2014 of liver cirrhosis. He was 58.  

Addressing the condolence meeting, H. E. Mr. Arjun B.Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, remembered Late Maharjan as a dedicated staff who attended to his work most sincerely and diligently. “Though I have not had a chance to meet him, I have been given to understand that his performance was superb,” he said. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved members of his family. I would also like to wish the departed soul eternal peace!”

Speaking on behalf of all the officials of the Secretariat, Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director (Administration), recalled Late Maharjan as a hardworking and sincere official. He recounted the efficient and responsible manner in which late Maharjan performed his duties at the Secretariat. He expressed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved members of his family. He conveyed sincere prayers for the endless peace of the departed soul.

Born in Chapagaon, Lalitpur of Nepal, Late Maharjan joined the SAARC Secretariat on 17/05/1993. He served the Secretariat continuously for 20 years as a chauffeur.

A dear colleague and fine human being, Late Maharjan will be missed by all the officials of the Secretariat.

H.E. SG's introductory visit to Bhutan

2014-05-20  H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, returned to Kathmandu today from Bhutan. He was visiting Bhutan on an introductory visit from 18 to 19 May 2014. He was accompanied by his spouse, Mrs. Pabitra Thapa.

During the visit, His Majesty     Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan received H. E. Mr. Thapa in audience yesterday. Mrs. Thapa was also present on the occasion.
 
H. E. the Foreign Minister of Bhutan hosted a dinner in Thimphu in honour of H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC and his spouse on 19 May.

Matters pertaining to the strengthening of SAARC’s mechanisms figured prominently during these meetings in Thimphu. In addition to the SAARC Secretariat, SAARC has a host of inter-governmental mechanisms, eleven Regional Centres and four specialized bodies. A Comprehensive Study prepared recently by the Secretariat spells out measures to make SAARC a robust and dynamic regional entity. Several recommendations made in the Study have already been approved by the Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers held in February 2014 in the Maldives, while the Secretariat is preparing some more studies in support of other recommendations in the Comprehensive Study.

Another subject that came under discussion in Thimphu related to the Eighteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Nepal in November 2014. During the February Session of the Council of Ministers, Nepal offered to host the Summit in November 2014. The Seventeenth SAARC Summit was held in the Maldives in November 2011.

H. E. Mr. Thapa assumed charge as Secretary-General of SAARC from 1 March 2014. As part of his familiarization visits to Member States, he has visited India, Bangladesh and Bhutan, besides paying introductory calls on the Nepalese leadership in early March. He is scheduled to visit Pakistan from 1 to 3 June 2014. Dates for his visits to Afghanistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka are being worked out in consultation with the concerned Foreign Ministries.

Mr. Singye Dorjee, Director, accompanied H. E. the Secretary-General and his spouse to Bhutan on the introductory visit.  

Condolence Message

2014-05-09

My colleagues at the SAARC Secretariat and I are deeply saddened over the loss of life of many people and the damage of colossal property caused by the recent landslides in northeastern Afghanistan.
 

At these moments of immense grief, my colleagues and I would like to express to the Government and the people of Afghanistan our heartfelt sympathy. We would also like to take this opportunity to convey our deepest condolences to the members of the bereaved families.

On behalf of the officials of the SAARC Secretariat, I would like to take this opportunity also to present a voluntary contribution representing their half a day’s salary to the affected people.


With the bravery and unity that the people of Afghanistan have always demonstrated at such testing moments in history, I remain confident that the country is in a position to cope with the aftermath of this unprecedented calamity.

Secretary-General, SAARC

SG calls on Hon'ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh

2014-05-07 As part of his introductory visits to the Member States, H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, visited Dhaka from 24 to 25 April 2014. He returned to Kathmandu on 28 April 2014.

    During the visit, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC paid a courtesy call on Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 24 April 2014. During the meeting, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC apprised H. E. the Prime Minister about the current state of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC, with particular reference to the Eighteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Nepal in November 2014.

 H. E. the Prime Minister congratulated H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC on assuming charge as Secretary-General of SAARC. She expressed firm commitment of the Government of Bangladesh to the SAARC process for the common good of peoples in the region.

During the visit, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC also called on H. E. Mr. Md. Shahriar Alam, MP, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and H. E. Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh on separate occasions on 24 April 2014. During these meetings, H. E. the Secretary-General highlighted the important decisions taken by the Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers and its preceding meetings held in the Maldives in February 2014.

H. E. the Secretary-General attended a luncheon hosted in his honour by the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh on 24 April 2014.

While in Dhaka, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC also visited the South Asian Regional Standards Organization (SARSO) based in Dhaka.

H.E. the Secretary-General of SAARC was accompanied by Mr. Tareque Muhammad, Director during the introductory visit.

    Following his introductory visit, H. E. the Secretary-General attended the Second Meeting of the Cabinet Secretaries of the SAARC Member States held in Dhaka from 26 to 27 April 2014.

MOU between SAARC and UN Women - Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

2014-04-15

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and UN Women, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote gender equality, gender justice and the empowerment of women among the countries in the South Asian region.

UN Women’s (previously UNIFEM) partnership with SAARC on gender equality and women’s issues dates back to 1996.  Inspired by shared goals and common concerns, SAARC and UN Women signed an MoU on 31 December 2001, which was later renewed in December 2007.

On 15 April 2014, H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC and Dr. Rebecca Tavares, Representative, UN Women Multi Country Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives   and Sri Lanka signed a fresh MoU between SAARC and UN Women for continued partnership for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.  The signing ceremony was attended by senior representatives from the SAARC Secretariat and UN Women Representatives from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan Media personnel were also present on the occasion.

Promotion of regional cooperation on issues related to trafficking, economic empowerment, political leadership and decision-making and violence against women (VAW), including safe mobility has been identified as the key areas of cooperation between the two organizations. Through the newly signed MoU, SAARC and UN Women have agreed to collaborate on the development and implementation of a SAARC Gender Equality and Empowerment Programme.

While expressing satisfaction over the signing of the MoU, H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC stated, “Ever since the inception of SAARC, issues related to women have figured prominently on the SAARC agenda for regional cooperation and in addition to the many regional instruments SAARC has initiated a number of regional projects for women empowerment and gender equality in the region.”

Delivering her remarks on the occasion, Dr. Rebecca Tavares, UN Women Representative said “UN Women puts a very high value on its partnership with the SAARC Secretariat. We have a shared vision on gender issues, articulated in the MoU that UN Women (then UNIFEM) and the Secretariat signed in 2001 to support Member Countries in meeting the goals of gender equality and in promoting mutual learning and cross fertilization. We are pleased to renew our MoU with SAARC for continued partnership for the next three years.”

The MoU signed today will remain valid for three years and is renewable.

H.E. SG calls on Hon'ble Prime Minister of India

2014-04-14

H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of SAARC, paid a visit to India from 7 to 9 April 2014 as part of his introductory visits to the Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This is the first visit to a member nation of SAARC undertaken by him following his assumption of office on 1 March 2014.

H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC called on Hon. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India on 9 April 2014.

During the meeting, Hon. Prime Minister congratulated H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC on his appointment. Hon. Prime Minister also expressed the firm commitment of India to the SAARC process for the common good of the peoples in the region. During the call on, H. E. Mr. Shiv Shanker Menon, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister; H. E. Smt. Sujatha Singh, Foreign Secretary of India; Dr. Neena Malhotra, Joint Secretary (SAARC) at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi; and Mr. Jawed Ashraf, Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office were present.

H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC apprised the Hon. Prime Minister about the ongoing activities of SAARC, with particular reference to trade and intra-regional connectivity.  The Secretary-General apprised the Hon. Prime Minister about the offer of Nepal to host the Eighteenth Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.

During the visit, H. E. Smt. Sujatha Singh, Foreign Secretary hosted a working luncheon meeting in honour of H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC on 9 April 2014. During the meeting, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC and H. E. the Foreign Secretary of India exchanged views on a wide range of issues relating to SAARC, including matters pertaining to the upcoming Eighteenth SAARC Summit.

While in New Delhi, the executive heads of the South Asian University, SAARC Documentation Centre and SAARC Disaster Management Centre, all of which are based in New Delhi, also called on H. E. the Secretary-General for a briefing about their activities.

Dr. Kabir takes over as DG, SARSO

2014-04-14

The South Asian Regional Standards Organisation (SARSO), a SAARC Specialised Body, became operational in Dhaka with effect from 3rd April 2014. A decision to this effect was taken by the Second Meeting of Governing Board of South Asian Regional Standards Organisation (SARSO) held in Dhaka on 2-3 April 2014 under the Chairmanship of Mr. Phuntsho Wangdi, Director-General, Bhutan Standards Bureau and Member on the Governing Board from Bhutan.   The Governing Board appointed Dr. Syed Humayun Kabir as the first Director General of SARSO for a period of three years; recommended the salary and allowances of Director-General, Professional Staff and General Services Staff of SARSO; and considered the interim Institutional Cost Budget prepared by the Director-General of SARSO for the period April – December 2014.   Dr. Kabir assumed the charge of the office of Director General of SARSO with effect from 3rd April 2014.  Mr. Uwe Miesner, Head of Technical Cooperation in Asia, German National Institute of Metrology (PTB) made a presentation on the status of activities held and proposed to be held under the SAARC-PTB MOU for strengthening quality infrastructure in the region.

The Governing Board also considered and approved the Report of the First Meeting of the SARSO Technical Management Board which was also held in Dhaka on 31 March – 1 April 2014. The Technical Management Board finalised its own Technical Rules and considered the Reports of the nine Sectoral Technical Committees which carried out the task of harmonisation of standards of identified products in the areas such as food and agricultural products; jute, textiles and leather; and building materials.

SG calls on Hon'ble Vice President of Nepal

2014-03-27 The Rt. Hon. Parmanand Jha, Vice President of Nepal, received H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as part of the latter’s introductory calls on the high dignitaries of Nepal. 

The Rt. Hon. Vice President of Nepal congratulated H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC on his appointment. The Rt. Hon. Vice President expressed Nepal’s support in making his tenure a success.  He also expressed Nepal’s firm commitment to the SAARC process for the common good of the people in the region.

Thanking the Rt. Hon. Vice President for receiving him and for his felicitations on his appointment, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC briefed the Rt. Hon. Vice President about the SAARC mechanisms, including the Programming Committee, Standing Committee, Council of Ministers and Summit. He also apprised the Rt. Hon. Vice President about SAARC’s eleven Regional Centres, and Specialized Bodies as the SAARC Development Fund and the South Asian University.

The Rt. Hon. Vice President identified the need for SAARC to launch programmes for the overall development of youth in the region as also the farmers who constitute a major segment of the South Asian populace. In this context, the Rt. Hon. Vice President underscored the imperative to launch home-grown projects that best suit the needs and conditions of the Member States in order to bring tangible benefits to the people of the region.

The Rt. Hon. Vice President of Nepal and H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC exchanged views on matters pertaining to the Eighteenth SAARC Summit, which the Government of Nepal will be hosting during November 2014.

SG calls on Hon'ble President of Nepal

2014-03-20  The Rt. Hon. Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, President of Nepal, received H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as part of the latter’s courtesy call at his office today.

At the outset, the Rt. Hon. President felicitated H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC on his appointment and wished him every success in his assignment. He vouched the support of Nepal in making his tenure a success.  He also expressed Nepal’s unwavering commitment to the SAARC process for the common good of the people in the region.  

H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC expressed his gratitude to the Rt. Hon. President for finding time to receive him despite his busy schedule. He expressed the hope that as one of the founding members of SAARC and the host of the SAARC Secretariat, Nepal will continue to extend fullest support the SAARC process and the Secretariat respectively.  

During the meeting, H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC apprised the Rt. Hon. President of Nepal of the recent developments in SAARC, including the major outcomes of the recently concluded Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers.  H. E. the Secretary-General made a particular reference to the Comprehensive Study prepared by the Secretariat for strengthening SAARC’s mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat and Regional Centres.  

The Rt. Hon. President and H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC discussed measures to make SAARC people-centric in order to deliver tangible benefits to the people at large. They discussed matters pertaining to the Eighteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Nepal in November 2014, which was announced by the delegation of Nepal during the recently concluded inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers. They also exchanged views on the administrative and other arrangements that may be required for holding the Summit.
 
    Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, was present at the meeting.

SG Calls on Hon'ble Prime of Nepal

2014-03-18 The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala, received H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as part of the latter’s courtesy call on the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal at his office today.

The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal felicitated H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC on his appointment and wished him every success in his assignment.  The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister expressed Nepal’s unwavering commitment to the SAARC process, adding that SAARC is the only viable regional institution in the SAARC region that can promote the welfare of the people of South Asia through enhanced regional economic cooperation.  

H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC reciprocated by felicitating the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal on his recent appointment as prime Minister of Nepal and by wishing him every success in his important responsibility. He expressed the belief that under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, Nepal will prosper and the SAARC Secretariat will also receive the needed cooperation from the Government of Nepal.
    
    H. E. the Secretary-General of SAARC apprised the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister about the recent developments in SAARC, including those decisions which were taken by the recently concluded Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers, preceded by the preparatory sessions of the Standing Committee and the Programming Committee. In his presentation, H. E. the Secretary-General made a particular reference to the Comprehensive Study prepared by the Secretariat for strengthening SAARC’s mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat and Regional Centres. 

The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal expressed Nepal’s full support in the strengthening of the SAARC Secretariat. Citing the Comprehensive Study undertaken by the SAARC Secretariat, the Rt. Hon. expressed his happiness that preparatory work has already begun in this connection.  

During the meeting, the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister and H. E. the Secretary-General also discussed matters pertaining to the Eighteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Nepal in November 2014, which was announced by the delegation of Nepal during the recently concluded inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers.
 
    Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, was present at the meeting.

SG calls on Foreign Minister of Nepal

2014-03-12

Secretary-General of SAARC calls on Foreign Minister of Nepal

H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid a courtesy call on H. E. Mr. Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the latter’s office today.

During the meeting, H. E. the Secretary-General felicitated the Hon. Foreign Minister on his recent appointment. He expressed the hope that under the able guidance of the Hon. Foreign Minister, Nepal will continue to support the process of regional cooperation under the framework of SAARC. He further hoped that the Government of Nepal will extend its fullest cooperation to the SAARC Secretariat as its benign host.
 
The Hon. Foreign Minister and H. E. the Secretary-General exchanged views on a number of issues relating to SAARC and its agenda of cooperation, with a particular reference to the decisions of the inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers that concluded in the Maldives last month. Matters pertaining to the strengthening of SAARC Mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat and Regional Centres figured prominently during the discussions.

The Hon. Foreign Minister and H. E. the Secretary-General also discussed several issues with regard to the preparatory work in connection with the Eighteenth SAARC Summit.

During the recently concluded inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers, Nepal offered to host the Eighteenth Summit in Nepal in November 2014.  
Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, was also present at the meeting.

H.E. SG calls on Offtg. Foreign Secretary of Nepal.

2014-03-11

H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid a courtesy call on H. E. Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi, Officiating Foreign Secretary at the latter’s office today.

During the meeting, the Foreign Secretary congratulated H. E. Mr. Thapa on his appointment as the twelfth Secretary-General of the Association, which, he added, was a testimony to the trust and confidence reposed in his leadership by the Member States. The Foreign Secretary wished the Secretary-General every success in his important responsibility.

H. E. the Secretary-General expressed the confidence that Nepal will continue to extend its fullest support to promote the ideals of SAARC for the common good of the peoples in the region.

The Secretary-General and the Foreign Secretary discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to the preparatory work in connection with the Eighteenth SAARC Summit to which Nepal will play host in November 2014 as was announced during the inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers held in the Maldives in February 2014.

Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, was also present at the meeting.

H.E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa assumes office of the Secretary-General of SAARC

2014-03-03  H. E. Mr. Arjun B. Thapa assumes office of the Secretary-General of SAARC

H. E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa of Nepal assumed charge as the Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) from 1 March 2014. H. E. Mr. Thapa is the twelfth Secretary-General of the Association and succeeds H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem of the Maldives.

H. E. Mr. Thapa was appointed to the position by the Thirty-fifth Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers held in the Maldives on 20 February 2014. Endorsing the nomination from the Government of Nepal, the Council “approved the appointment of H. E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa as the next Secretary General of SAARC for a three-year term commencing from 1st March 2014.”

Prior to this appointment, H. E. Mr. Thapa served as the Foreign Secretary of Nepal. In his diplomatic career, H. E. Mr. Thapa has also served as Ambassador of Nepal to the United Arab Emirates and as Deputy Permanent Representative/Minister Plenipotentiary as well as Charge d’Affaires, a.i., at the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations in New York.

Born in January 1956, H. E. Mr. Thapa has a Masters’ Degree in International Law.

The Secretaries-General of SAARC are appointed by the Council of Ministers upon nomination by a Member State on the basis of the principle of rotation in alphabetical order for a period of three years.

Launched in December 1985, SAARC comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as its members.

35th Session of the Council of Ministers of SAARC Member States

2014-02-26

The Thirty-Fifth Session of the SAARC Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs was held in the Maldives on 20th February 2014.  The meeting was inaugurated by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives.   This was preceded by Fortieth Session of the Standing Committee, 6th Special Session of the Standing Committee and Forty-fifth Session of the Programming Committee during 17-19 February, 2014, with participation from all SAARC Member States.

The Foreign/External Affairs Ministers of SAARC Member States had last met in Addu City, Maldives in November, 2011.

During these meetings, the whole gamut of issues related to co-operation amongst Member States of SAARC were discussed, including strengthening of SAARC Mechanism.  

The Council was unanimous in applauding the out-going Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, for his stewardship in taking the SAARC process forward.  The Council also approved the appointment of Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, former Foreign Secretary, Government of Nepal, as the new Secretary-General of SAARC.  H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem demits office on 28th February, 2014.

During the meeting, Nepal also announced hosting the Eighteenth Summit of Heads of SAARC Member States sometime in November, 2014.

PRESS RELEASE: The 45th Session of the SAARC Programming Committee

2014-02-17  The 45th Session of the SAARC Programming Committee was held on 17 February 2014 in the Bandos Island Resort, the Maldives.

H.E. Mr. Hassan Shifau, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the Republic of Maldives and Chair for the Meeting opened the Session by welcoming the delegates from all Member States and SAARC Secretariat.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC updated the Committee on the implementation of the decisions taken at the Forty-fourth Session of the Programming Committee (SAARC Secretariat, 9-11 December 2013).

The Programming Committee deliberated on a number of issues of cooperation and financial and administrative matters of SAARC. Delegations from all the SAARC Members attended the Meeting.

Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting in the Maldives

2014-02-13 The Thirty-Fifth Session of the SAARC Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs will be held in the Maldives on 20th February 2014.  This would be preceded by Fortieth Session of the Standing Committee, 6th Special Session of the Standing Committee and Forty-fifth Session of the Programming Committee during 17-19 February, 2014.  All Member States will participate in these meetings..

Secretary-General's farewell call on Foreign Secretary of Nepal

2014-02-09

 

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, paid a farewell call on H. E. Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi, Foreign Secretary of Nepal.  

            At the start of the meeting, the Secretary-General thanked the Foreign Secretary for finding time to receive him. The Secretary-General also congratulated the Foreign Secretary on his new and important assignment.

            In his briefing, the Secretary-General acknowledged that the establishment of the Association has largely contributed to the maintenance of peace in the region, besides opening up ample vistas for effective regional cooperation. He stated that there is much that SAARC could achieve for the common good of the people in the region. He further said that in order to make SAARC a robust organization, the SAARC Secretariat has recently conducted a comprehensive Study to strengthen its mechanisms, including the Secretariat, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies of SAARC.

            In his remarks, the Foreign Secretary emphasized upon the need to develop and implement sub-regional and regional projects that bring about tangible benefits for the people of South Asia. He laid emphasis on strengthening people-to-people contacts through people-centric programs and projects.   He also stressed on the need to strengthen the SAARC Secretariat to meet the ever-increasing ambit of regional cooperation under the auspices of the Association.

            The Secretary-General thanked the Foreign Secretary for the support and cooperation extended to him and the Secretariat by the Government of Nepal as the host.

            The Foreign Secretary complimented the Secretary-General for the exemplary leadership he provided to the Secretariat in taking forward the process of regional cooperation.

            Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, SAARC Secretariat was present at the meeting.

SG Addressing the 5th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave

2014-01-21

 

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Inaugural Session of the Fifth SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave in New Delhi today.

          Organized by the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), the Conclave brought together Hon. Ministers of Commerce and Industry from all the Member States of SAARC except Bangladesh, besides a large number of trade delegations from them. The Conclave was devoted to theme, South Asian Century: Progressing towards Regional Integration.

          Addressing the Inaugural Session of the Conclave, the Secretary-General stated, Economic cooperation in the region was initiated in the early 90s with the institution of the Committee on Economic Cooperation, following the completion of the first SAARC Study on Trade and Manufactures and Services.  While it is very true that SAARC has taken small steps at a time, there has never been a case of looking back.  As a result, SAARC today has many a success story to relate.” He further said, “Since the early 1990s, SAARC has taken several important initiatives to enhance regional economic integration. The SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA), the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), and more recently, the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) are landmark Agreements in the pursuit of our common objective of speedy regional integration. With the coming into being of these Agreements, statistical evidence suggests that intra-sub regional trade among SAFTA members is rising slowly and steadily. South Asia’s intra-sub-regional trade share increased from 2.7% in 1990 to 4.3% in 2011.”

          H. E. Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India delivered the Inaugural Address at the Conclave. Others addressing the Inaugural Session included Mr. V. S. Sahney, President, SCCI, Mr. Sidharth Birla, President, FICCI, and Mr. Siegfried Herzog, Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

SG's call on King of Bhutan

2014-01-15

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid a visit to Bhutan from 13 to 14 January 2014.

During the visit, the Secretary-General paid a courtesy call on His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King ofBhutan. During the meeting, the Secretary-General apprised His Majesty the King of Bhutan about the current status of regional cooperation, with particular reference to intra-regional trade and connectivity. His Majesty the King expressed Bhutan’s unequivocal support to the SAARC process for the common good of the peoples in the region.

The Secretary-General called on H. E. Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan during the visit. In his meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General informed the Prime Minister of the latest initiatives of SAARC in several agreed areas of regional cooperation. The Prime Minister expressed his Government’s unwavering commitment to the strengthening of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC.

During the visit, the Secretary-General also called on H. E. Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The Minister and the Secretary-General exchanged views on matters of common interest, particularly SAARC and its diverse agenda of cooperation. They also discussed matters pertaining to the Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers and its preceding meetings to be held in the Maldives from 17 to 20 February 2014. The Minister hosted a dinner in honour of the Secretary-General in which senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Executive Heads of SAARC regional institutions attended. 

While in Thimphu, the Secretary-General also met H. E. Dasho Yeshey Dorji, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Government of Bhutan and discussed issues pertaining to SAARC. Matters relating to the Special Session of the Standing Committee scheduled for 17 February 2014 in the Maldives figured prominently during the discussions. In keeping with the directive of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit, the Committee is expected to consider the entire gamut of issues vis-à-vis SAARC’s engagement with its Observers. During the meeting, the Secretary-General also apprised the Foreign Secretary about the Comprehensive Study undertaken by the Secretariat in strengthening SAARC’s mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies of SAARC.

While in Thimphu, the Secretary-General paid a visit to the SAARC Forestry Centre and the SABAH project, funded by the SAARC Development Fund based in Thimphu, Bhutan.

The Secretary-General was accompanied by his spouse, Mrs. Ayesha Manike and Mr. Singye Dorjee, Director, SAARC Secretariat.

Sectetary General visits Pakistan

2014-01-09

 H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid a visit to Pakistan from 7 to 8 January 2014.

During the visit, the Secretary-General called on H. E. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs; H.E. Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs; and H. E. Mr. Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary.

During the Secretary-General’s call on H. E. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, the Advisor reiterated that Pakistan is fully committed to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter to promote the welfare of the people of this region through effective regional integration. He further stated that Pakistan is a vibrant member of SAARC and hoped that despite several impediments, SAARC will become a catalyst for regional development.

In his meeting with the Secretary-General, H. E. Mr. Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, highlighted that Pakistan values SAARC as a dynamic regional platform for building economic synergies, deepening regional integration and bringing the people of South Asia together.

The Foreign Secretary hosted a luncheon in honour of the Secretary-General which was also attended by Envoys from the SAARC Member States based in Islamabad, Federal Secretaries, Directors from three SAARC Regional Centres and high officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the calls on the high dignitaries, the Secretary-General apprised them of the current status of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC with particular reference to intra-regional connectivity and economic integration. The Secretary-General briefed the dignitaries about the preparations underway for the convening of the Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers and its preceding meetings to be held in the Maldives from 17 to 20 February 2014. He also informed them about the Comprehensive Study that the SAARC Secretariat has undertaken to strengthen the SAARC mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat and Regional Centres. This is the first time in the history of the Association that the Secretariat has been mandated to prepare such a Study.

SAARC Charter Day

2013-12-13

 

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) celebrated its Twenty-ninth Charter Day today. The Charter establishing the Association was signed on 8 December 1985 by the SAARC Heads of State or Government during their first-ever Summit meeting in Dhaka, the initiative for which was spearheaded by late President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh.

To mark the Day, the Heads of State or Government of SAARC Member States issued special messages, vouching their unwavering support and commitment to the SAARC process. SAARC is the regional body that aims to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life through regional cooperation in mutually agreed areas. SAARC today caters to almost every sphere of human activity.

All the Member States, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies of SAARC commemorated the Charter Day by organizing dedicatory events. At the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu, H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, hosted a Reception to mark the Day. The occasion brought together high-ranking officials, resident Ambassadors, civil society representatives, business community and a large number of media personnel, among others The Reception also had the presence of Heads of SAARC Divisions in the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs of SAARC Member States, who are in Kathmandu to attend the Forty-fourth Session of the Programming Committee that opens at the SAARC Secretariat tomorrow.

The Secretary-General addressed the gathering present on the occasion. At the behest of the Secretary-General, the attending guests also observed a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to late President Nelson Mandela.

On the occasion, the Secretary-General conferred upon the SAARC Youth Award for the year 2011 to Mr. Mohamed Faseen Rafiu of the Maldives in recognition of his outstanding contribution to society under the theme of “Youth Leadership in the fight against social ills.” The Award, which carries a cash prize of US $ 3000, a gold medal and a citation, was instituted in 1994 in order to recognize the extra-ordinary young talents in the region. So far, 11 such awards have been given away to the youth from within the region. Rafiu is the first recipient of the Award from the Maldives.

            Concluding his Address at the Reception, the Secretary-General said, “As we mark the Twenty-ninth SAARC Charter Day today, I would like to extend warm felicitations to the people and Governments of our Member States. Let us today recommit ourselves to strengthen SAARC to meet the growing expectations of our peoples in the region.”

SG receives Ambassador of Japan

2013-11-25

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, received H. E. Mr. Masashi Ogawa, Ambassador of Japan to Nepal in his office today.

During the meeting, the Ambassador presented to the Secretary-General the letter of credential accrediting the former as the Permanent Representative of Japan to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The letter is signed by H. E. Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.

So far, there are nine observers to SAARC:  China, Japan, Republic of Korea, USA, Iran, Mauritius, Australia, Myanmar and the European Union.

Japan obtained the observer status to SAARC in April 2007 during the Fourteenth SAARC Summit held in New Delhi.

SG attends CHOGM

2013-11-15

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that opened at the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre in Colombo today.

It is the first time in the history of SAARC that the Secretary-General of SAARC is invited to attend the CHOGM.

The Summit was preceded by preparatory meetings of Foreign Ministers from 13 to 14 November 2013 at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre.  Five Member States of SAARC, namely Bangladesh, India, The Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are Members of Commonwealth.

The Summit concludes on 18 November 2013.

SG addressing 2nd Mtg of South-South Cooperation on Child Rights in New Delhi

2013-10-28

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, addressed the Second High-level Meeting for South-South Cooperation on Child Rights in New Delhi on 25 October 2013.

Organized by the Ministry of Women & Child Development of the Government of India, the Meeting was inaugurated on 23 October 2013. 

In his presentation at Session 5of the meeting devoted to the theme, Regional Perspectives and Partnerships, the Secretary-General highlighted the initiatives taken by SAARC in the area of child rights. Referring to the SAARC Social Charter, he stated, “The SAARC Social Charter, signed in January 2004, addresses the issue of promotion of the Rights and well-being of the Child, stating that the child should be entitled to grow and develop in health with due protection. The Charter advocates special services to be provided for the child and its mother.  The Charter stresses to undertake specific steps to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates. Most importantly, the Charter highlights the need for education, literacy, and skill development amongst adolescents and youth, especially of girls, and elimination of child or early marriage in the region. The Charter extends its provisions to the children in conflict with law, street, orphaned, displaced, abandoned and children affected by armed conflict and affected by drug abuse as well.”

The Secretary-General further said, “The SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia and the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution are other important regional instruments. These instruments complement to the participatory rights of the child as a vital prerequisite for realization of human rights and for achievement of Millennium Development Goals and SAARC Development Goals.”

Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Director, Social Affairs Division, SAARC Secretariat also attended the High-level Meeting in New Delhi.

Inauration of Symposium on Best Practices in Poverty Alleviation in South Asia 2013

2013-10-02

The Symposium on the Best Practices in Poverty Alleviation opened in Kathmandu today.

Organized by the SAARC Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Development Proramme (UNDP) under the SAARC-UNDP Partnership Programme, the Symposium brings together the government representatives and community beneficiaries from all the Member States and the representatives of SAARC’s development partners, among others, to discuss the core issues related to poverty alleviation in the region.

A large number of high ranking officials of the Government of Nepal, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and regional and international organizations in Kathmandu, representatives of civil society and business community and media personnel attended the Inaugural Session organized at Hotel Radisson this morning.

 

Delivering the Welcome Address at the Inaugural Session of the Symposium, H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC recapitulated the initiatives taken by SAARC in reducing poverty in the region. In his address, he made particular references to the directives of the successive SAARC Summits in the area of poverty alleviation. Highlighting the objectives of the Symposium, the Secretary-General stated, “The primary purpose of the Symposium is to facilitate the sharing of the best practices in poverty alleviation and to develop strategies to upscale these practices individually or collectively to eradicate poverty from our region.” He further said, “Following the deliberations at the Symposium, the Compendium on the best practices in poverty alleviation will be published by the SAARC Secretariat.”

Rt. Hon. Khil Raj Regmi, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Nepal, inaugurated the Symposium. In his Address, he brought to the fore the ongoing efforts of Nepal in alleviating poverty at the national level.  

On the occasion, the Rt. Hon. Chairman of the Council of Ministers also launched the SAARC Regional Poverty Profile, 2009-10.  The Profile is aimed at sharing of the best practices and experiences towards poverty alleviation in the region.

Hon. Dr. Rabindra Kumar Shakya, Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission of Nepal chaired the Inaugural Session.  In his address, the Vice Chairman highlighted the vision of the Planning Commission towards poverty alleviation in Nepal.

Hon. Mr. Saumitra Chaudhuri, Member of the Planning Commission of India also addressed the Inaugural Session. In his Address, the Member apprised the participants about the success stories of India in poverty alleviation.

Other speakers at the Inaugural Session included Dr. Ponna Wignaraja, Chairman of the South Asian Perspective Network Association of Sri Lanka and the Vice Chairman of the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation; and Ms. Caitilin Wiesen, Manager, UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Centre, Bangkok.

In January 2004, the Twelfth SAARC Summit declared poverty alleviation as the “overarching goal” of SAARC. Since then, the Association has undertaken several measures to free South Asia from poverty. 

SAARC currently observes the decade, 2006-2015, as the SAARC Decade of Poverty Alleviation.

SG addressing the Foreign Ministers Meet in New York

2013-09-29

SAARC Foreign Ministers met informally in New York on 25 September 2013 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Dr. Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Environment and Energy and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives chaired the informal meeting organized by the Permanent Mission of Maldives in New York. Maldives holds the Chair of SAARC following its Seventeenth Summit in November 2011.

Opening the meeting, the Chairperson highlighted the important initiatives taken by the Maldives in the implementation of the decisions of the Seventeenth Summit. She also apprised the attending Ministers or their representatives of the impending plans of the Maldivian Government in carrying forward the SAARC process.

Addressing the meeting, the Secretary-General reviewed the progress in the implementation of the Seventeenth Summit directives. He also urged the Ministers or their representatives present at the meeting to consider the possibility of holding the inter-Summit Session of the Council of Ministers and the Eighteenth Summit as early as possible. Elaborating on the urgency of convening these meetings, he stated, "Since the Seventeenth Summit, a number of meetings have been held both at the technical and Ministerial levels. However, no meetings of Charter bodies of SAARC, namely, the Standing Committee, the Council of Ministers and the Summit have taken place since the last Summit, creating a backlog of important decisions to be taken by them. Your Excellencies would readily agree with me that without the convening of these meetings, SAARC activities are bound to suffer due to lack of direction and impetus. At the same time, I strongly feel such postponements of the Charter body meetings for a long period of time impede the process of regional cooperation, where decisions are required to be taken unanimously by the eight Member States."

Following the presentation by the Secretary-General, the Ministers deliberated upon several measures to implement the decisions of the SAARC Charter Bodies, including the Seventeenth Summit, and SAARC Ministerial Meetings, among others. During the meeting, they unequivocally underscored the need to hold the regular Session of the Council of Ministers at an early date.

Pursuant to the decision taken by the Eleventh Session of the Council of Ministers in July 1992, SAARC Foreign Ministers have been meeting informally in New York since 1997 on the sidelines of the UNGA sessions. The last such informal session was held in New York in October 2012. 


SG addresses the Sixth Asian and Pacific Population Ference in Bangkok

2013-09-19

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Inaugural Session of the Ministerial Segment of the Sixth Asian and Pacific Population Conference in Bangkok today.

Addressing the Inaugural Session, the Secretary-General highlighted the important initiatives taken by SAARC in promoting the social agenda in the region. In his Address, he made a special reference to the SAARC Social Charter adopted in January 2004. He stated, “The SAARC Social Charter addresses the issue of promotion of the rights and well-being of the child that the child should be entitled to grow and develop in health with due protection. The Charter not only advocates special services to be provided to the child and mother, but also identifies specific steps to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates. Most importantly, the Charter highlights the need for education, literacy and skill development amongst the youth, and elimination of early marriage in the region.”

Elaborating on the measures taken by SAARC in the social sector, the Secretary-General further said, “The SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia and the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution are other important regional instruments. Going beyond the regional instruments, I am happy to state that SAARC has begun implementation of regional projects, such as the one on Maternal and Child Health. This year,SAARC will initiate a regional project for Women and Children to provide services to victims and survivors of human trafficking.”

The Conference brings together many distinguished Ministers and Senior Officials, Parliamentarians and civil society representatives from about forty countries and territories from the Asian and Pacific Region to chart out the regional population and development agenda for the next decade.  The Conference that is organized jointly by UNESCAP and UNFPA will conclude on 20 September 2013. A Senior Officials' Meeting preceded the Ministerial Segement of the Conference from 16 to 18 September 2013.

Mr. Ahmar Ismail, Director, who heads the Energy, Transport, Science and Technology Division represented the SAARC Secretariat at the Senior Officials' Meeting. 

SG inaugurating the Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents in South Asia

2013-09-17

Secretary-General opens Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents
H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary - General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) opened ‘The Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents in South Asia’ in Kathmandu today.


In his opening statement, the Secretary-General stated, “The first decade of this Century was designated as the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child. In 2011, SAARC and UNICEF produced a report assessing the progress towards children’s rights in the region. This report was launched at the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in Addu City of Maldives in November 2011. One of the eight recommendations of that Report called for enhanced investment in quality education, health and social services that respect, protect and fulfill adolescents’ rights. The related action points called for strong leadership to address harmful social norms, investment in education and life skills, mechanisms to encourage adolescents’ voice and participation, and integrated and inter-sectoral approaches to programming for adolescents, particularly for girls and the most marginalized."
In his Address, the Secretary-General further stated, "The Dialogue provides a forum for all stakeholders to work towards addressing the recommendations of the Assessment Report of the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child, with special emphasis on the prevalent adolescent policies and strategies in the SAARC countries."


Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Director, who heads the Social Affairs Division at the Secretariat, made introductory remarks at the Inaugural Session. Ms. Karin Hulshof, Regional Director, UNICEF Office for South Asia delivered welcome remarks. On behalf of adolescents, Ms. Mehaki Thapa, Child Advisory Board Member for Child Workers in Nepal and Member of Child Rights Forum, made a special presentation at the Inaugural Session. Ms. Helen Cahill, Associate Professor in Student Wellbeing and Deputy Director, Youth Research Center, University of Melbourne, Australia delivered the keynote address.


The Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents brings together policy-makers, academia, civil society organizations and adolescents themselves to debate and agree on concrete policy actions aimed at respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of adolescent girls and boys in the region. This initiative is a product of SAARC's longstanding collaboration with UNICEF.

SG addressing the 6th South Asia Economic Summit

2013-09-02

The Sixth South Asia Economic Summit opened in Colombo, Sri Lanka, today. The Summit concludes on 4 September 2013.

The Summit brings together eminent personalities from academia, government, civil society, private sector and media from the Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It also has participation from experts and resource persons drawn from other organizations and countries.

Hosted by the Institute of Policy Studies, an apex think tank of Sri Lanka, the theme of the three-day Summit is “Towards a stronger, dynamic & inclusive South Asia.” 

Addressing the Summit, H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC stated, “South Asia Economic Summits have been an important platform for the South Asian researchers, academicians, businesspersons, government representatives, among others, to exchange views on issues having a direct bearing on economic integration of our region. I am happy to mention that the previous five summits have been instrumental in generating views and ideas for consideration of the policy makers in our region.”

“I am glad to note that this Summit, which is the sixth in the series, will be devoted to thematic issues as harnessing human capital, managing water resources, food security and climate change, addressing intra-country growth disparities and building competitiveness of the private sector. As all these issues are very pertinent the SAARC process, I remain confident that this Summit will provide a great food for thought for our decision-makers in the region,” the Secretary-General said in his Address at the opening of the Summit. 

Hon. Dew Gunasekera, Senior Minister for Human Resources of Sri Lanka inaugurated the Summit. Hon. Ahsan Iqbal Chowdhury, Federal Minister for Planning of Pakistan delivered a special address at the Summit’s Inaugural Session. Dr. Saman Kalegama, Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka delivered a welcome statement.

Launched in 2008, the South Asia Economic Summit is the premier regional platform for dialogue and debate on socio-economic issues facing South Asia. Each year, the Summit tackles the critical issues, develops new insights, and generates ideas on policy priorities for consideration of the region’s decision-makers.

The Fifth South Asia Economic Summit was held in Islamabad, Pakistan in September 2012, while the Fourth South Asia Economic Summit was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in October 2011.

SG's Meeting with Country Director, ADB

2013-08-15

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, received Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director, Nepal Resident Mission of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at his office yesterday.

            The Country Director was accompanied by Mr. Priyantha Wijayatunga, Unit Head, Portfolio Management Unit of the Nepal Resident Mission. Mr. Ahmar Ismail, Director, SAARC Secretariat was also present.

            During the meeting, the Country Director handed over to the Secretary-General the SAARC Study on the South Asia Power Exchange that was recently published by ADB. The Study, the first of its kind, opens up a myriad of windows for collaboration among the Member States of SAARC in the important field of energy.

            The Secretary-General thanked ADB for extending technical and financial assistance to SAARC in the preparation of the Study. He expressed confidence that the Study will go a long way in harnessing the energy potential of the region to the common benefit of SAARC’s membership. “It is a great leap forward in an important component of regional cooperation as energy,” he asserted.

The Study that runs into some 200 plus pages was published by ADB in June 2013. It was finalized during the Seventh Meeting of the SAARC Working Group on Energy held in Sri Lanka in March 2013.  The Study, inter alia, identifies possible cross border power transmission interconnections and scenarios of regionally interconnected power systems; brings to the fore scenarios for nodal point supply and demand in the region covered or to be covered by interconnected power systems; determines the technical potential for cross border power exchanges, the additional power transmission required, and the institutional, regulatory and commercial principles and procedures to be followed in formalized cross border power trade; and carries out the economic and financial analyses of different power trade options with the perspective of (a) optimization of resources at regional level (b) improving overall reliability of electric supply in the region and (c) environmental benefits.

            The Twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in 2004 embraced energy as one of its priority areas of cooperation. The same Summit directed that a study on creating a South Asian Energy Cooperation including the concept of an Energy Ring be undertaken.  Following this directive, SAARC had prepared the Regional Energy Trade Study with the technical and financial assistance of ADB in March 2010. The Study recognized the benefits of establishing a regional power market for enhancing regional energy trade in the region.

The present Study is therefore a sequel to the recommendation of the erstwhile Study conducted in March 2010. The Study was authorized by the Thirty-seventh Session of the Standing Committee held in Thimphu in April 2010, preceding the Sixteenth SAARC Summit.

SG, SAARC addresses the Core Group of Immigration and Visa Experts

2013-08-13

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, addressed the Core Group of Immigration and Visa Experts at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu today.

Participated in by representatives of all the Member States, the two-day Meeting of the Core Group brings together immigration and visa experts from the region in a bid to expand the scope of the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme. The Scheme currently entitles a limited number of people to visa-free travel within the region.

“I am happy to note that this meeting convenes finally today and tomorrow at the SAARC Secretariat with the participation of all the Member States. The presence of delegates from all the Member States not only signifies the importance of this meeting, but also augurs well for its success, paving the way for the smooth functioning of the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme,” said the Secretary-General in his address.

The Fifth SAARC Summit held in November 1990 in the Maldives had decided to launch the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme with the ultimate objective of putting in place a visa free regime in South Asia. “You would agree with me that considered as a milestone in the history of SAARC, the Scheme, that became operational in 1992, has enormous potential in enhancing people to people contacts in the region. Though there are presently only 24 categories of entitled persons, the list is bound to grow with the passage of time in the larger interest of our Association,” the Secretary-General stated.

Referring to the concerns regarding difficulties with the revised procedures for issuance of visa stickers to certain categories of persons including the businessmen, the Secretary-General urged the meeting to simplify them. “I would like to urge this meeting to revisit the procedures to make them simple and achievable,” he said.

The Guidelines and Procedures governing the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme provides for annual meetings of the Immigration Authorities of Member States in order to facilitate its smooth functioning. The Fifth Meeting of Immigration Authorities held in Malé on 24 September 2012 had recommended the convening of the Core Group of Immigration and Visa Experts to consider including new categories of persons.

On the recommendation of the Fifth Meeting of Immigration Authorities, a Meeting of Experts is to convene at the Secretariat immediately following the Core Group’s meeting, to consider the establishment of the SAARC Immigration Liaison Network, a proposal mooted by the Maldives.

Secretary-General calls on the Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission

2013-08-13 H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) called on Hon. Rabindra Kumar Shakya, Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission of Nepal at the latter’s office today.

During the meeting, the Secretary-General apprised the Vice-Chairman of the ongoing efforts of the SAARC Secretariat aimed at the alleviation of poverty in the region. These included initiatives as publication of the Regional Poverty Profiles (RPPs), 2009-10 and 2011-12 on the themes “Food Security Challenges for the Poor and Social Inclusion” and “SAARC Development Goals (SDGs) Achievements” respectively; holding of an Inter-Governmental Expert Group at the Secretariat in September 2013 to discuss achievements of SDGs; holding of a Workshop to formulate SAARC’s position on Post-2015 Development Agenda; and convening of a Symposium on Best Practices on Poverty Alleviation in South Asia.

The Secretary-General also briefed the Vice Chairman about the impending initiatives of the SAARC Secretariat as SAARC Handicraft Development Centre; Highland Food Security with high value chains in South Asia; and Urban Poverty Management.

Welcoming the presentation of the Secretary-General, the Vice Chairman pledged the support of the Government of Nepal towards the initiatives of the SAARC Secretariat in reducing poverty in the region, to which, he added, Nepal also attached high priority at the national level.

Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director, who heads the Poverty Alleviation Division at the Secretariat, was also present at the meeting.

Established in December 1985 with the primary objective of improving the welfare of the people of South Asia, SAARC comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as its members. At the Twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in 2004, the Heads of State or Government declared poverty alleviation as the “overarching” goal of SAARC. Subsequently, the Thirteenth SAARC Summit held in Dhaka in 2005 declared the decade of 2006-15 as the Decade of Poverty Alleviation.

According to the World Bank estimates, SAARC is home to a population of 1.65 billion of which 32 percent fall below the international poverty line at US$ 1.25 per capita per day. The average per capita Gross National Income (GNI) of SAARC countries stood at US $ 1358.00 in 2012. The GNI of South Asia has been growing by 6.53 percent annually during the last decade.

Meeting on NTMs and PTMs

2013-07-31

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Special Meeting on Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) and Para-tariff Measures (PTMs) convened at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu today.

          The Special Meeting brought together representatives of all the Member States of SAARC to discuss measures to dismantle all barriers to trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Agreement. Office bearers of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) were also present at the meeting.

        Addressing the opening of the Special Meeting at the Secretariat, the Secretary-General said, “I am glad to note that the Seventh Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts (COE) held in Islamabad after the Seventeenth SAARC Summit, while considering matters relating to NTBs and PTBs, recommended that it would be necessary to hold a Special Meeting of the SAFTA COE on NTMs and PTMs. This meeting, I hope, will effectively address the objectives and concerns of the SAARC Leaders with regard to non-tariff and para-tariff barriers.”

         The Special Meeting takes place in the lead up to the next meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council scheduled for 23 August 2013 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Council comprising Commerce Ministers of SAARC Member States is the highest decision-making body of SAFTA and is responsible for its administration and implementation. The SAFTA Agreement signed on 6 January 2004 came into force with effect from 1 January 2006.

     At the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in the Maldives in November 2011, SAARC Leaders had directed the SAFTA Ministerial Council to intensify efforts to fully and effectively implement SAFTA through early resolution of non-tariff barriers.

         The Special Meeting was preceded by a Session of the Working Group on Reduction of Sensitive Lists under SAFTA at the SAARC Secretariat on 30 July 2013. 

Secretary-General, SAARC addresses Meetings of NTMs and PTMs

2013-07-30

   

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Special Meeting on Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) and Para-tariff Measures (PTMs) convened at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu today.

           The Special Meeting brought together representatives of all the Member States of SAARC to discuss measures to dismantle all barriers to trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Agreement. Office bearers of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) were also present at the meeting.

            Addressing the opening of the Special Meeting at the Secretariat, the Secretary-General said, “I am glad to note that the Seventh Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts (COE) held in Islamabad after the Seventeenth SAARC Summit, while considering matters relating to NTBs and PTBs, recommended that it would be necessary to hold a Special Meeting of the SAFTA COE on NTMs and PTMs. This meeting, I hope, will effectively address the objectives and concerns of the SAARC Leaders with regard to non-tariff and para-tariff barriers.”

           The Special Meeting takes place in the lead up to the next meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council scheduled for 23 August 2013 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Council comprising Finance Ministers of SAARC Member States is the highest decision-making body of SAFTA and is responsible for its administration and implementation. The SAFTA Agreement signed on 6 January 2004 came into force with effect from 1 January 2006.

           At the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in the Maldives in November 2011, SAARC Leaders had directed the SAFTA Ministerial Council to intensify efforts to fully and effectively implement SAFTA through early resolution of non-tariff barriers.

          The Special Meeting was preceded by a Session of the Working Group on Reduction of Sensitive Lists under SAFTA at the SAARC Secretariat on 30 July 2013.

Secretary General, SAARC calls on newly appointed Foreign Secretary of Nepal

2013-07-25

 

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) called on H. E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, the newly appointed Foreign Secretary of Nepal at the latter’s office today.

            During the call-on, the Secretary-General felicitated H. E. Mr. Thapa on his elevation to the position of Foreign Secretary with effect from 22 July 2013. Prior to this appointment, H. E. Mr. Thapa was Joint Secretary dealing with SAARC and the Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry.

            The Secretary-General also congratulated H. E. Mr. Thapa on joining the distinguished fraternity of the SAARC Standing Committee by virtue of this appointment. The Standing Committee comprises Foreign Secretaries of the eight Member States and is an important policy-making body of the Association.

            During the meeting, the Secretary-General briefed the Foreign Secretary on the current status of regional cooperation. The Secretary-General sought the support of Nepal in convening the inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers, which has been postponed for several times as the dates announced by the Maldives, as the current Chair, were found inconvenient to one or the other Member State.  He also expressed the confidence that the convening of the inter-Summit Session of the Council will also pave the way for the Eighteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Nepal in the near future.

             Concluding his remarks, the Secretary-General thanked the Government of Nepal for hosting the SAARC Secretariat and extending all possible support and cooperation to facilitate its smooth functioning.

              Welcoming the gesture of the Secretary-General, the Foreign Secretary thanked the Secretary-General for his warm sentiments on his appointment. He also thanked the Secretary-General for his exemplary leadership in guiding the affairs of SAARC and its Secretariat. He reciprocated the Secretary-General’s concerns on the need to convene early the inter-Summit Session of the Council to clear the backlog of work resulting out of its frequent postponements. As a founding member of SAARC and the host of the SAARC Secretariat, Nepal is committed to extend support not only to the Secretariat but to the SAARC process as a whole, the Foreign Secretary asserted. 

              Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Director, SAARC Secretariat was also present at the meeting.

SG calls on Ambassador of India to Nepal

2013-07-16

H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General, SAARC called on H.E. Mr. Jayant Prasad, Ambassador of India to Nepal today and expressed that he and his colleagues at the SAARC Secretariat were deeply saddened over the loss of many lives and damage to the colossal property, caused by the recent floods in the Indian State of Uttrakhand.   He conveyed his deepest condolences to the members of the bereaved families.  

Secretary-General praised the bravery and unity that the people of India have demonstrated at these tragic moments and expressed confidence that the country and the people of India would soon be able to overcome the sufferings caused by this unprecedented calamity.

Secretary-General also presented a Cheque for US$1249 to the Ambassador of India, as a token of contribution from the officials of the SAARC Secretariat, to the Indian Government’s Relief Fund.


It may be recalled that the Secretary-General had also recently met the Foreign Secretary of Nepal and donated a sum of US$1249/- to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, Nepal.

Secretary General, SAARC calls on Foreign Secretary of Nepal

2013-07-04

H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General, SAARC called on H.E. Mr. Durga Prasad Bhattarai, Foreign Secretary of Nepal today and expressed that he and his colleagues at the SAARC Secretariat were deeply saddened over the loss of many lives and damage to the colossal property, caused by the recent floods in the western region of Nepal.

He conveyed his deepest condolences to the members of the bereaved families. Secretary-General praised the bravery and unity that the People of Nepal have demonstrated at these tragic moments and expressed confidence that the Country and the people of Nepal would soon be able to overcome the sufferings caused by this unprecedented calamity.

Secretary-General also presented a Cheque for US$1249 to the Foreign Secretary of Nepal, as a token of contribution from the officials of the SAARC Secretariat, to the Nepal Government’s Relief Fund.

SAARC and GIZ Sign a Memorandum of Understanding

2013-06-27

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC and H. E. Dr. Roland F. Steurer, Country Director, GIZ, Nepal, signed the MoU on behalf of their respective institutions.

The signing ceremony took place over a function organized at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu that was attended by representatives of SAARC and GIZ and its partners. Also present on the occasion were the resident Ambassadors of Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Nepal.

Prior to the signing of the MoU, H. E. Mr. Saleem addressed the modest gathering present on the occasion. In his address, he stated, “We are at a crucial stage in SAARC for deepening economic, trade and financial cooperation among the member countries. With this MoU in place, the SAARC Secretariat looks forward to engaging itself meaningfully with GIZ and its partners for the common benefit of the peoples of our region.”

Addressing the signing ceremony, H. E. Mr. Frank Meyke, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Nepal highlighted the importance the German Government attached to collaboration with SAARC in accelerating the process of economic integration in South Asia.

In his key-note address, Dr. Roland Steurer, Country Director of GIZ, Nepal, spoke of the key elements of the MoU.  He also recalled the process that underwent over the years in developing the MoU between SAARC and GIZ.

Among others, H. E. Mr. Glenn White, Ambassador of Australia to Nepal also addressed the function. Mr. Zubair Malik, Representative of the SAARC-Trade Promotion Network delivered a special Address.

On the occasion, Mr. Amrit Lugun, Director, SAARC Secretariat delivered a welcome address while Mr. Horst Ammann, Programme Manager, SAARC-TPN of GIZ gave a vote of thanks.

The MoU signed between SAARC and GIZ envisages cooperation between the two organizations in promoting intra-regional trade and economic integration in South Asia.  The MoU that is valid for ten years is renewable upon mutual consent of the two parties.

Earlier in 2003, SAARC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) to promote collaboration among SAARC Member States in the fields of metrology, standards, testing, quality management, accreditation and certification with the technical assistance of PTB.

SAARC and GIZ Sign a Memorandum of Understanding

2013-06-27

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC and H. E. Dr. Roland F. Steurer, Country Director, GIZ, Nepal, signed the MoU on behalf of their respective institutions.

The signing ceremony took place over a function organized at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu that was attended by representatives of SAARC and GIZ and its partners. Also present on the occasion were the resident Ambassadors of Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Nepal.

Prior to the signing of the MoU, H. E. Mr. Saleem addressed the modest gathering present on the occasion. In his address, he stated, “We are at a crucial stage in SAARC for deepening economic, trade and financial cooperation among the member countries. With this MoU in place, the SAARC Secretariat looks forward to engaging itself meaningfully with GIZ and its partners for the common benefit of the peoples of our region.”

Addressing the signing ceremony, H. E. Mr. Frank Meyke, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Nepal highlighted the importance the German Government attached to collaboration with SAARC in accelerating the process of economic integration in South Asia.

In his key-note address, Dr. Roland Steurer, Country Director of GIZ, Nepal, spoke of the key elements of the MoU.  He also recalled the process that underwent over the years in developing the MoU between SAARC and GIZ.

Among others, H. E. Mr. Glenn White, Ambassador of Australia to Nepal also addressed the function. Mr. Zubair Malik, Representative of the SAARC-Trade Promotion Network delivered a special Address.

On the occasion, Mr. Amrit Lugun, Director, SAARC Secretariat delivered a welcome address while Mr. Horst Ammann, Programme Manager, SAARC-TPN of GIZ gave a vote of thanks.

The MoU signed between SAARC and GIZ envisages cooperation between the two organizations in promoting intra-regional trade and economic integration in South Asia.  The MoU that is valid for ten years is renewable upon mutual consent of the two parties.

Earlier in 2003, SAARC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) to promote collaboration among SAARC Member States in the fields of metrology, standards, testing, quality management, accreditation and certification with the technical assistance of PTB.

The Regional Consultative Meeting to finalize actionable frameworks on Sanitation and Nutrition

2013-05-13

The Regional Consultative Meeting to finalize actionable frameworks on Sanitation and Nutrition in South Asia was held at the SAARC Secretariat on 8-9 May 2013 under the chairmanship of Mr. Ram Chandra Devkota, Deputy Director General of Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal. The Meeting was attended by representatives of SAARC Member States, representatives from UNICEF and Experts from the region. Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Director, Social Affairs, SAARC Secretariat opened the Meeting on behalf of H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, the Secretary-General of SAARC. On behalf of UNICEF, Karin Hulshof, Regional Director, UNICEF ROSA, highlighted the status of sanitation and nutrition situation in South Asia. The Meeting examined Regional Frameworks on Nutrition and Sanitation and agreed to the text of the Frameworks with revisions.

2.                     The Second Meeting of the SAARC Health Ministers mandated the Technical Committee on Health and Population Activities (TCHPA) to prepare guidelines for basic healthcare services, nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. Accordingly, the second meeting of TCHPA recommended the Secretariat to obtain services of consultant(s) or institution(s) to develop such guidelines. The SAARC Secretariat with support from UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) contracted expertise to develop Regional Frameworks for Sanitation and Nutrition.

3.                     The Report of the Meeting will be considered by the Fourth Meeting of Technical Committee on Health and Population Activities scheduled to be held in India.

Secretary-General calls on Indian dignitaries

2013-05-06

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, called on H. E. Mr. Salman Khurshid, Minister of External Affairs of India on 2 May 2013 in New Delhi. 


    During the meeting, the Secretary-General apprised the Minister of the ongoing activities of SAARC, with particular reference to the efforts underway to promote intra-regional trade and connectivity. He also expressed his gratitude to the Minister for the continuous support that he has been receiving from the Government of India in carrying out his responsibilities as the Secretary-General of SAARC since assuming office in March 2012. 


    While in New Delhi, the Secretary-General also met H. E. Mr. Ranjan Mathai, Foreign Secretary of India. The Secretary-General and the Foreign Secretary discussed measures to promote regional cooperation in general, and the important role that India, as the largest member of SAARC, could play in this regard.


    During these meetings, the Secretary-General also highlighted the need to convene the Inter-Summit of the SAARC Council of Ministers early.


    The Secretary-General was visiting New Delhi from 1 to 5 May 2013 in connection with the Informal Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers that was convened on 3 May 2013 on the sidelines of the 46th Annual General Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Addressing the informal meet of the Finance Ministers, the Secretary-General said, “Various studies, including many from our region, have concluded that infrastructure is poor in our countries and across the region, and there is much scope for investment in this field.  Hence, the need for Infrastructure Financing becomes crucial, which, gladly, is also the theme of this informal meeting today.”


    In addition to their regular meetings, SAARC Finance Ministers have been meeting informally on the sidelines of the annual meetings of ADB since 2006. This meeting in New Delhi is the seventh such gathering that brought together SAARC Finance Ministers to discuss ways and means to deepen regional economic and financial integration.

6th Meeting of IGEG on Financial Issues was held at the SAARC Secretariat on 23-24 April 2013

2013-04-25

The Sixth Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Expert Group (IGEG) on Financial Issues was held at the SAARC Secretariat on 23-24 April 2013 under the chairmanship of Mr. C.J.P. Siriwardana, Assistant Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Colombo. It was attended by the representatives of Finance Ministries and Central Banks of SAARC Member States. Mr. Amrit Lugun, Director, Economic, Trade and Finance Division, SAARC Secretariat opened the Meeting on behalf of SAARC Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem as per SAARC practice.   The Meeting examined the SAARC Study on ‘Regional Economic Integration in SAARC, its current extent and recommendations for further deepening’ conducted with the assistance of Asian Development Bank. The Study dwells on the roadmap to South Asian Economic Union (SAEU).

 

2.         The Inter-Governmental Expert Group discussed matters relating to Public Debt Management; Development of Capital Market in South Asia;  Financial Inclusion - Access to financial services and credit to financially excluded sections of the society; Experiences of Financing for Infrastructural Development; Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing;  Harmonisation of fiscal and trade indicators; comparative performance of key economic indicators; sharing of experience and best practices in the financial sector;   greater flow of financial capital and intra-regional long-term investment.  The Meeting also reviewed the progress in the implementation of Swap Arrangement. The delegation of India informed the Meeting that the Swap Arrangement was announced on 16 May 2012 by the Governor of Reserve Bank of India in Pokhara, Nepal with a contribution of India of US$ 2 billion for SAARC countries. The first agreement under the swap arrangement was signed between Bhutan and India on 8 March 2013 for an amount of US$ 100 million for three years.    The Swap facility will further economic cooperation within the SAARC region, pave the way for increased intra-regional trade and contribute to enhancing the collective welfare of the region.

Secretary-General addresses SCCI

2013-04-22

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, addressed the Executive Committee of the SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) in Kathmandu on 22 April 2013.


Referring to the Declarations of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth SAARC Summits on the role of the private sector, the Secretary-General said, “It is amply clear that successive SAARC Summits have always recognized the important contribution of the private sector in the regional economic integration, which is one of the primary goals of our Association.” At the end of his Address, he said, "Before I conclude, I would like to emphasize the point that we must vigorously pursue greater economic cooperation because only that will create the necessary climate of mutual trust and confidence that is indispensable to creating an environment of peace and stability in the region."  


As the SAARC Apex Body, SCCI brings together the representatives of the private sector from across the region to promote regional economic integration. SCCI is currently headed by its President Mr. Vikramjit Singh Sahney. Its headquarters is based in Islamabad, Pakistan.


2nd Meeting of SAARC Sectoral TC on Jute, Textiles & Leather held in Dhaka on 17-18 April 2013

2013-04-22

Tthe Second Meeting of the SAARC Sectoral Technical Committee on Jute, Textiles and Leather was held in Dhaka on 17-18 April 2013 under the chairmanship of Dr. Syed Humayun Kabir, Director (Standards), Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), Dhaka. Mr. Md. Farhaduddin, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industries, Government of Bangladesh inaugurated the Meeting.  Mr. Iqbal Ahmed, Director (SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh also addressed the Inaugural Session. He welcomed the delegates and informed that the construction of SARSO building is underway and will become operational by January 2014. In his statement, Mr. Amrit Lugun, Director, SAARC Secretariat urged that Meetings of Sectoral Technical Committees should be held at regular intervals in order to expedite the process of harmonisation of standards of identified products.

8th Meeting of Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions/Equivalent Bodies held in Kathmandu on 17-18 April 2013

2013-04-18  Eighth Meeting of Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions/Equivalent Bodies held in Kathmandu on 17-18 April 2013

Vice Governor of Yunnan Province calls on SG

2013-04-15  Ms. Li Jiang, Vice Governor of Yunnan Province of China called on H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary General of SAARC, on 15 April 2013 at his residence.
The Vice Governor invited the Secretary-General to attend the Twenty-first Session of China Kunming Import and Export Fair and the First Session of China - South Asia Exposition to be held in Kunming from 6 to 10 June 2013. She handed over the letter of invitation to the Secretary-General.

While thanking Ms. Jiang for the invitation, the Secretary-General expressed his willingness to attend the two events in Kunming.  

Ms. Jiang was accompanied by a seven-member delegation from China.

The Third Meeting of SAARC Ministers on Poverty Alleviation, preceded by the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Secretaries on Poverty Alleviation, was successfully concluded in Kathmandu on 4-5 April 2013.

2013-04-05

The Third Meeting of SAARC Ministers on Poverty Alleviation was inaugurated by Rt. Honourable Khil Raj Regmi, Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Minister for Defence, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation, Government of Nepal. The inaugural ceremony was attended by Ministers and Senior Officials from all eight SAARC Member States, Ambassadors and Ministers, Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission and Senior Officials from the Government of Nepal.

The Third Meeting of SAARC Ministers on Poverty Alleviation was chaired by Hon. Vidyadhar Mallik, Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development; and Health and Population, Government of Nepal and the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Secretaries on Poverty Alleviation was chaired by Mr. Ran Bahadur Shrestha, Secretary, Ministry of Co-operatives and Poverty Alleviation, Government of Nepal.

Some of the major outcomes of the Meeting are as follows:

·         extension of the first cycle of SAARC Development Goals from 2012 till 2015, which would coincide with the completion of MDGs in 2015;

·         replacing RPP, which was being published since 2003, with SDR (SAARC Development Report) from 2014 onwards to be published biennially;

·         publishing the Regional Poverty Profile (RPP) 2009 – 2010 titled “Food Security Challenges for the Poor and Social Inclusion”, shortly by the SAARC Secretariat;

·         proceeding further with the project of SAARC Handicraft Village (SHV): Handicraft Design, Development and Promotion Centres (HDDPCs); and

·         organizing a ‘Symposium on Best Practices for Poverty Alleviation and SAARC Development Goals: Evidences on Improvements in Policy, Programme Designs and Implementation’ at the SAARC Secretariat in the coming months.

Further, the Member States felt the need to provide SAARC inputs for the post-2015 developmental agenda.

The Fourth Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Poverty Alleviation preceded by the Sixth Meeting of SAARC Secretaries on Poverty Alleviation will be held in Bhutan.

SAARC Secretariat observes Staff Day

2013-01-17

 

The SAARC Secretariat observed the Staff Day on 16 January 2013 to mark the day of its establishment.

 

This is the first time that the Secretariat observed the Day upon initiation by the incumbent Secretary-General of SAARC, H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem.

 

 Addressing the officials of the Secretariat on the Staff Day, the Secretary-General said, “The main purpose of this initiative is to

honour the staff for their hard workand dedication and to create a conducive atmosphere in the Secretariat where everyone works 

  harder than before with unwavering commitment and devotion.”

 

            On the same occasion, in pursuance of the decision of the Forty-second Session of the Programming Committee, the Secretary-General also declared Mr. Balkrishna Pariyar, Messenger, the best performer for the year 2012.

 

            To mark the Day, the Secretariat organized a table tennis tournament participated in by the Secretary-General, its Directors and officials. Mr. Kumar Shrestha and Mr. Ratan Silwal won the final match against Mr. Tareque Muhammad and Mr. Madhusudan Lamichhane.

 

Likewise, in commemoration of the Day, a Staff Picnic will be held in Dhulikhel on Sunday, 20 January 2013 during which the best performer of the Secretariat and the winning team of the tournament will be awarded.

 

            Established in 1987 in Kathmandu, the Secretariat coordinates and monitors the implementation of SAARC activities, services the meetings of the Association and initiates proposals for regional cooperation, including elaboration of sub-regional and regional projects and identification of sources of their funding.

 

The Secretariat comprises a Secretary-General, eight Directors and regionally and locally recruited officials from Member States, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

43rd Programming Committee convenes, SAARC Secretariat, 3-5 JAN 2013

2013-01-06  The Forty-third Session of the Programming Committee concluded at the SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu on 5 January 2013. The meeting which was participated in by all the Member States was chaired by H. E. Mr. Hassan Shifau, Permanent Secretary of the Republic of Maldives.

    Convening after a gap of over a year, the three-day session of the Committee had before it several important issues having a bearing on regional cooperation. Among other things, the Committee considered a number of Reports of the Governing Boards of SAARC Regional Centres and Expert Groups’ meetings that were held after the Seventeenth Summit. The Committee also finalized the Calendar of Activities for the year 2013.

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, also addressed the opening session of the Programming Committee.  Highlighting the significant achievements of SAARC since the last Summit, the Secretary-General said, “Since the Seventeenth Summit held in Addu City, Maldives, in November 2011, SAARC has shown clear signs of closer cooperation in many fronts. Trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) has already crossed the US$ 2 billion mark; the South Asian University has produced the first batch of graduates last August; the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme now covers 24 categories of persons who are entitled to visa free travel within the region.”

The Programming Committee comprises the Heads of SAARC Divisions of the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs of the Member States of SAARC. It is a subsidiary body that reports to the Standing Committee of Foreign Secretaries.

In addition to the Directors from the SAARC Secretariat, the Directors of all the Regional Centres also attended the Committee’s Session that was held at the Secretariat from 3 to 5 January 2013.

An Interactive Session with Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus, SAARC Secretariat, 22 December 2012

2012-12-22

An interactive session with Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus titled “Microfinance and Poverty Reduction in South Asia” was held at the SAARC Secretariat on Saturday, 22 December 2010.

 

H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC welcomed Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus and all distinguished delegates to the programme and said that as SAARC is observing its Poverty Alleviation Decade 2006 – 2015: SAARC looks forward to learning from the insights and experiences of Prof. Yunus on a subject which is extremely relevant in the context of the South Asia.

 

The interactive session was chaired by Hon. Dependra Bahdur Kshetry, Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission of Nepal. The discussion panelists were Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada - Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, Mr. Binod Chaudhary - President Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), Ms. Chandani Joshi, Former Director of UNIFEM South Asia and Mr. Raj Babu Shrestha, Executive Director – Poverty Alleviation Fund, Nepal.

 

Prof. Yunus delivering an inspiring speech, pointed out that the South Asian region being home to one fourth of world’s population, is also a hub of poverty in the world.  He emphasized the role of women and youth in poverty reduction processes and the need for redesigning economic, political, educational, financial and technological systems to reduce poverty until poverty is eradicated from the region. 

 

A number of distinguished invitees including diplomats, academics, media personnel and Officials of the SAARC Secretariat participated in the programme for which SAARC Secretariat was supported by CNI and SACEPS.

 

Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli – Director (Information and Poverty Alleviation Division) of SAARC Secretariat proposed a vote of thanks and expressed SAARC’s gratitude to Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Chair, all panelists and distinguished invitees for making the event a success.

Secretary-General receives Permanent Secretary of Maldives

2012-12-20

 

 H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, received H. E. Mr. Hassan Shifau, Permanent Secretary of Maldives at the SAARC Secretariat today.

 

                  Mr. Shifau was visiting Nepal in connection with the SAIEVAC Regional Meeting to Review Commitments and Actions for the Girl Child and to develop a Regional Action Plan to End Child Marriage held in Kathmandu on 17-18 December 2012.

 

                  During the meeting, among other things, the Secretary-General and the Permanent Secretary exchanged views on SAARC matters with a particular focus on the follow-up of the decisions of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in Addu City of Maldives in November 2011 that was devoted to the theme, Building Bridges. They also discussed matters on the agenda of the Forty-third Session of the Programming Committee, currently scheduled to be held at the SAARC Secretariat on 3-5 January 2013.

 

                  Mr. Hasan is the present Chairperson of the SAARC Programming Committee comprising Joint Secretaries or Directors-General dealing with SAARC in Member States. He also served as Director at the SAARC Secretariat during the period, October 2007-December 2010.

Secretary-General addresses the Expert Group on Climate Change

2012-12-20

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, addressed the Third Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Expert Group on Climate Change convened at the SAARC Secretariat today.

 

                  The two-day meeting brings together experts from SAARC Member States and Regional Centres including the South Asian University to take stock of the progress made so far in the implementation of the Thimphu Statement on Climate Change adopted at the Sixteenth SAARC Summit held in Bhutan in April 2010. The meeting is also expected to suggest further ways and means to effectively put into action the recommendations contained in the Statement.

 

                  In his address, the Secretary-General stated that South Asia, as a region, is one of the most ecologically vulnerable regions of the world and continues to face daunting challenges related to adverse effects of climate change. Given that, he highlighted the need to strengthen cooperation in order to preserve, protect and manage the region’s diverse and fragile eco-systems for the well-being of its people. He added, “SAARC, in its history of over two and half decades, has launched many initiatives and activities, and made significant progress. However, let us not relax in the comfort of our achievements. We must continue to move ahead and seize the opportunities to build on the progress so far.”

 

                  The Thimphu Statement on Climate Change adopted by the SAARC Heads of State or Government is a clear indication of their commitment and determination to enhance cooperation among Member States in this important area. The Statement outlines a number of initiatives to be implemented both at the national and regional level to address the adverse effects of climate change.

Message from SAARC Secretary General on the occasion of 28th SAARC Charter Day

2012-12-11

On the auspicious occasion of the Twenty-eighth Charter Day of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), I am pleased to extend my warm felicitations to the people and Governments of our Member States.

 

Founded in December 1985, SAARC is the manifestation of the collective will of our Member States to promote regional cooperation and integration in order to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life. 

 

Although SAARC commenced with a few areas of regional cooperation at its inception, the ambit of engagement among its members continued to grow by every passing year.  Indeed, SAARC today stands to cater to many diverse areas of regional cooperation, with the establishment of a number of inter-governmental mechanisms and institutions. More than anything else, SAARC has continued to serve as a common platform to address the common issues facing our region, thereby building mutual trust and confidence among one another.  In addition, through its diverse activities over the past twenty-seven years, SAARC has been able to forge a distinct South Asian identity and a culture of peace, cooperation and partnership for the collective benefit of our people.

 

Devoted to the theme, Building Bridges, the Seventeenth Summit held in Addu City, Maldives, in November 2011, provided the renewed vigor and dynamism to the agenda of cooperation being pursued by the Association, particularly in the crucial area of intra-regional connectivity. Acting upon the directive of the Seventeenth Summit, an inter-Governmental mechanism is currently engaged with the preparatory work to launch the Indian Ocean Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service involving India, Maldives and Sri Lanka. In the meanwhile, Member States are vigorously pursuing the finalization of the Regional Railways Agreement and the Motor Vehicles Agreement. Furthermore, SAARC is also contemplating conducting a demonstration run of a container train among Bangladesh, India and Nepal. With the coming into fruition of these important initiatives, I am confident that intra-regional trade will grow substantially, paving the way for the South Asian Economic Union, as envisioned by our Leaders at their successive Summits.

 

As we mark the Twenty-eighth Charter Day today, all of us must be proud of the significant achievements SAARC has made over the years. The South Asian Free Trade Arrangement (SAFTA), the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) and the South Asian University (SAU) are some of the notable achievements that deserve particular mention here. This is also a befitting occasion for all our countries to reaffirm their commitment to the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter for the common good of the peoples that SAARC represents.

SAARC Charter Day Celebration on 8 Dec 2012

2012-12-08

The Twenty-eighth SAARC Charter Day was celebrated today at the SAARC Secretariat premises in Kathmandu.

 

On invitation of H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary- General of SAARC, the occasion was graced by Rt. Honourable Mr. Paramananda Jha, Vice President of Nepal and Honourable Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha “Prakash”, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal.  

 

H.E. Mr. Durga Prasad Bhattarai, Foreign Secretary of Nepal, other high Government dignitaries, Heads of Missions, Ambassadors, other dignitaries, media personnel and all SAARC Secretariat officials were also present at the occasion.

 

H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary- General of SAARC in his welcome address briefly highlighted the achievements of SAARC in the last twenty-seven years and said that SAARC strives to become more people centric in its future endeavours.

 

Press Conference on the eve of 28th SAARC Charter Day at the SAARC Secretariat

2012-12-07

H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC hosted a press conference at the SAARC Secretariat premises in Kathmandu on occasion of the 28th SAARC Charter Day, which is celebrated tomorrow, 08.12.2012. The press conference was attended by a number of representatives from national and international media institutions.

 

Mr. Dhan Bahadur Oli, Director – Information and Poverty Alleviation opened the press conference and H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC briefed the media personnel on developments within SAARC since the 17th SAARC Summit which was held in Addu City, Maldives on 10 – 11 November 2012.

 

His Excellency outlined the achievements within SAARC, inter alia, in trade & finance, environment and climate change, education, poverty alleviation, development and transport.

 

The briefing of His Excellency was followed by an interactive session with media personnel present in which Directors representing the eight SAARC Member States provided updates on areas of cooperation within SAARC.

 

Marathon on the occasion of SAARC Charter Day - 8th December 2011

2012-12-06

SAARC Secretariat, in collaboration with National Sports Council of Nepal, is organizing a Marathon (a total distance of 8 km only) in Kathmandu to commemorate the 27th SAARC Charter Day on 8th December 2011 in which all the members of diplomatic community based in Kathmandu have been invited to participate. SAARC Secretariat welcomes for public participation and women are especially encouraged to take part in the event.

The route of the Marathon will be SAARC Secretariat- Durbar Marg-Kamaladi-Nepal Academy- Ram Shah Path-Singha Durbar-Mandala, Thapathali-Tripureshwor-Sundhara-Kanti Path-Mahankal-Bir Hospital- Jamal- SAARC Secretariat, Thamel. Those who are interested to participate in the Marathon are requested to register at the SAARC Secretariat by 4.00 pm,   7th December 2011 and arrive at the SAARC Secretariat at 6.45 am sharp on the 8th December. Participants should be physically fit to run the distance of 8km. The registration can be done at email shabbir@saarc-sec.org or Tel.4221694.

The Marathon is scheduled to begin at 7 am at the SAARC Secretariat and terminate at the SAARC Secretariat premises, Thamel, approximately at 9 am.  A special programme will be organized at the Secretariat at 9 .15 am on the same day to give away prizes to the winners of the Marathon in presence of the Secretary General and other distinguished guests. Refreshments will be served to all participants during the programme.

                                                                               

Event Programme

Day/Date:  Thursday/8 December 2011

Gathering of participants:    06:45 a.m.

Gathering point :  SAARC Secretariat, Tri Devi Marg, Kathmandu

Start Time:    7:00 a.m.

Expected Finishing Time: 9:00 a.m. at the SAARC Secretariat, Thamel, Kathmandu

Prize Distribution, followed by refreshment:     9:15 a.m.

Marathon Route    SAARC Secretariat- Durbar Marg-Kamaladi- Nepal Academy- Ram Shah Path- Singha Durbar- Mandala, Thapathali- Tripureshwor- Sundhara- Kanti Path- Mahankal- Bir Hospital- Jamal- SAARC Secretariat, Thamel. 

Total Distance    8 Kilometers (approximate)

Expected Participation    200 participants

Registration     Mr. Shabbir Ahmed, Ph: 4221694,
E-mail: shabbir@saarc-sec.org

Secretary-General addresses ACD Summit

2012-10-19

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC addressed the Inaugural Session of the First Summit of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue held in Kuwait on 15 October 2012. The three-day-Summit concluded on 17 October 2012.

H. E. the Secretary-General was invited to the Summit by H. E. Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah, Deputy Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs of the State of Kuwait.

In his address at the Inaugural Session of the Summit, the Secretary-General stated, “As one of the largest and the most populated regions of the world, Asia has always enjoyed a rich history and cultural diversity that contributed in advancing science and human knowledge throughout time. Endowed with immense human and natural resources, I believe this is the era of coming closer, and ‘collective development’ for the Asian countries.”

Mr. Ahmar Ismail, Director, SAARC Secretariat, accompanied the Secretary-General to the Summit in Kuwait.

****

Secretary-General addresses the Home Ministers’ Conference

2012-09-28 H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, addressed the Inaugural Session of the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Home or Interior Ministers in Maldives today. The Meeting brought together the Ministers and high-level delegations from SAARC Member States to discuss issues pertaining to security in the region.

Addressing the Inaugural Session, the Secretary-General briefed the visiting Ministers on the important initiatives undertaken by SAARC in strengthening cooperation among Member States to address security issues facing the region. Referring to the directive of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in Addu City of Maldives in November 2011, he said, “Most recently, at the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in Addu City, the SAARC Leaders declared to root out terrorism, taking into account its linkages with illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and small arms and to make coordinated and concerted efforts to combat terrorism. At the same Summit, the Leaders also called for an early conclusion of the proposed UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and completion of the ratification of the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Given the important directives of the Seventeenth Summit, this Ministerial Meeting is, therefore, timely and important, as it is expected to agree on measures to realize the Summit directives.”

Inaugurated by H. E. Mr. Mohamed Waheed Deen, Vice President of the Republic of Maldives, the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Interior or Home Ministers was preceded by the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Home or Interior Secretaries on 25 September and by the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Immigration Authorities on 24 September 2012.

Secretary- General calls on the Vice President of Maldives

2012-09-28

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, paid a courtesy call on H. E. Mr. Mohamed Waheed Deen, Vice President of the Republic of Maldives at the President’s Office in Malé on 27 September 2012. The Secretary-General was visiting Malé in connection with the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Interior or Home hosted by Maldives.

During the meeting with the Vice President, the Secretary-General apprised the dignitary on the ongoing activities of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), with a particular focus on measures aimed at implementing the decisions of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in Addu City of Maldives in November 2011. The Summit bore the theme, Building Bridges.

 At the meeting, the Secretary-General also briefed the Vice President on the progress achieved in the preparation of a comprehensive Study aimed at strengthening SAARC mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies. For the first time in the history of the Association, the Member States have entrusted the Secretariat with the responsibility of undertaking such an important Study, which will be placed before the inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers to be hosted by Maldives in February/March 2013.

Second Meeting of the Expert Group of the Regional Railways Agreement and the Meeting of Experts on Demonstration Run of a Container Train (SAARC Secretariat, 26-28 August 2011)

2012-08-30 SAARC Secretariat hosted the Second Meeting of the Expert Group of the Regional Railways Agreement and the Meeting of Experts on Demonstration Run of a Container Train were held back to back on 26-27 August 2011 and 28 August 2011, respectively.

The Expert Group finalized the text of the Regional Agreement on Railways which will be circulated for views/comments of the SAARC Member States. The other meeting discussed operational details of conducting a first ever Demonstration Run of a Container Train involving Bangladesh, India and Nepal initially, hoping to cover other SAARC Members in the future.

SAARC Leaders at the last Summit in Thimphu, pronounced the current decade as the decade of intra-regional connectivity in SAARC. In view of the declaration, these meetings assume special significance.

Excerpts from President of India's address to the nation on SAARC

2012-08-15 H.E. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, President of the Republic of India, in his first Address to the Nation on the eve of India’s Sixty-sixth Independence Day said that “SAARC was created 27 years ago to find solutions through dialogue, and by mutual cooperation create the rapid economic growth that is the only long-term answer to problems like migration and uneven development.  SAARC must acquire vigour to fulfill its mandate”.

The President also mentioned that the SAARC should be a major instrument in the common war against terrorists.  Great success is possible for international cooperation.  All SAARC nations must cooperate to bring to justice those who believe in mayhem against innocents.  There is no other way towards peace on the subcontinent.

The Fifteenth Meeting of the Committee on Economic Cooperation - Maldives, 15-16 July 2012

2012-07-24 The Fifteenth Meeting of the Committee on Economic Cooperation comprising Commerce Secretaries of SAARC Member States was held in the Maldives on 15-16 July 2012 at the invitation of the Government of Maldives.  In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary General of SAARC emphasised the importance of the mandate of this high level body which has the mandate to monitor the progress in the trade and economic cooperation and to suggest new ideas for further deepening this cooperation. H.E. Mr. Ahmed Mohamed, Hon’ble Minister of Economic Development, Government of Maldives welcomed the delegates to the Maldives and reiterated the importance of further accelerating the pace of regional economic cooperation and  reaffirmed the commitment of the Maldives to the speedier enhancement of economic cooperation under SAARC for regional economic integration.

The Meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Yusuf Riza, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development, Government of Maldives. It reviewed the progress in the implementation of its earlier recommendations with regard to South Asian Free Trade Area, reduction in the Sensitive Lists, intra-SAARC trade flows under SAFTA, SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services, harmonisation of standards, establishment of South Asian Regional Standards Organisation, establishment of SAARC Arbitration Council, harmonisation of customs procedures and documentation, cooperation in the fields of statistics, avoidance of double taxation, SAARC Trade Fairs etc. It emphasised the early finalisation of the text of the Draft SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment. It also made recommendations for developing a road map for a long term vision of regional economic integration in SAARC and for its movement towards South Asian Economic Union. A representative of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry made a presentation giving the perspective of private sector for promotion of intra-SAARC trade and economic cooperation.

The Meeting recognised delays in customs clearance procedures and decided that henceforth electronic copies of specimen signatures and seals of officials authorised to sign SAFTA Certificates of Origin may also be accepted in addition to sending the original copies of such documents in order to save time and to ensure that the consignments are not held up at the customs border points. It also agreed with the proposal of the delegation of Maldives that the scope of the SAARC Limited Multilateral Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters may be expanded for the benefit of all concerned in the region. 

Nepal offered to host the Sixteenth Meeting of the Committee on Economic Cooperation would be held in Nepal in 2013, the exact dates for which would be decided once the dates for the Eighteenth SAARC Summit are announced.

Secretary-General visits Dhaka

2012-06-21

During the visit, the Secretary-General paid a courtesy call on Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 19 June 2012.  During the call-on, the Secretary-General apprised the Prime Minister of the current state of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC, with a particular reference to the recommendations of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit and their follow-up. The Prime Minister said Bangladesh attached top priority to regional cooperation in South Asia and considered SAARC as a catalyst for regional cooperation aimed at promoting the welfare of the peoples in the region. 

The Secretary-General also called on Her Excellency Dr. Dipu Moni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh on 19 June 2012. He thanked the Minister for endorsing his nomination as the eleventh Secretary-General of SAARC. He also briefed the Minister on the ongoing activities of the Association. 

Earlier on 19 June 2012, the Secretary-General called on Ambassador Mustafa Kamal, Acting Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh. The Acting Foreign Secretary and the Secretary-General discussed matters pertaining to intra-regional trade and connectivity. They also discussed the imperative to strengthen the SAARC Secretariat.

While in Dhaka, the Secretary-General also visited the SAARC Meteorological Research Centre and SAARC Agriculture Centre. The Secretary-General and the Directors of the two Centres held a wide range of discussions pertaining to their scope of work.

Secretary-General visits Colombo

2012-05-30

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, paid an introductory visit to Sri Lanka from 28 to 30 May 2012.

During the visit, the Secretary-General called on His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka on 28 May.  At the meeting, the Secretary-General apprised the President of the status of implementation of the recommendations of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit, with a particular reference to intra-regional trade and connectivity.  The President expressed the unwavering commitment of Sri Lanka to the strengthening of the SAARC process to promote the welfare of the people in the region.

The Secretary-General called on H. E. Niomal Perera, Deputy Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka on 29 May. During the meeting, the Secretary-General briefed the Minister about the ongoing activities of the Association.  

On 28 May, the Secretary-General called on H. E. Mr. Karunathilake Amunugama, Secretary/External Affairs of Sri Lanka. During the meeting, the Secretary-General and the Foreign Secretary reviewed the decisions of the Seventeenth Summit and took stock of progress made in their implementation. At the meeting, the Secretary-General and the Foreign Secretary also discussed the urgent need to strengthen the SAARC Secretariat.

While in Colombo, the Secretary-General met Mr. Sumith Nakandala, Secretary-General (designate) of BIMSTEC on 29 May. The Secretary-General briefed the latter about the role and structure of the SAARC Secretariat, among others.

The Secretary-General paid a visit to the SAARC Cultural Centre on 29 May. During the visit, Mr. G.L.W. Samarasinghe, Director informed the Secretary-General about the ongoing activities of the Centre. The Secretary-General felicitated the Director and his able team for the very useful work being done by the Centre to promote cultural links among the countries in the region.

Earlier on 28 May, the Secretary-General addressed the Inaugural Session of South Asia Follow up Regional Consultation on the UN Study on Violence Against Children hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka. In his Address, he briefly highlighted the initiatives taken by SAARC in  promoting the  cause of children and women in particular.

Directors Mrs. R. D. Rajapakse and Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree accompanied the Secretary-General to these meetings in Colombo.

Secretary-General visits Thimphu

2012-05-25

H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, visited Thimphu from 22 to 24 May 2012.

During the visit, the Secretary-General called on H. E. Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan on 24 May 2012.  During the meeting, the Secretary-General apprised the Prime Minister of the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit.  At the meeting, the Prime Minister expressed the continued support of the Royal Government to the strengthening of the SAARC process for the common good of peoples in the region.

Earlier on 24 May, the Secretary-General called on H. E. Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, Minister-in-charge for Foreign Affairs. The Secretary-General apprised the Minister of the ongoing activities of the Association. The Minister and the Secretary-General also discussed the imperative need to strengthen the SAARC Secretariat so as to make it more effective and efficient.

The Secretary-General also called on H. E. Dasho Daw Penjo, Foreign Secretary of Bhutan on 24 May. The Foreign Secretary and the Secretary-General discussed matters pertaining to intra-regional trade and connectivity, with a particular focus on the implementation of the decisions of the Seventeenth Summit.  

During his three-day stay in Thimphu, the Secretary-General visited the SAARC Development Fund Secretariat and held discussions with its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Karma and his colleagues. During the meeting, the Secretary-General called upon the SDF Secretariat to expedite the process of operationalizing the Economic and Infrastructure Windows of the Fund.

While in Thimphu, the Secretary-General also paid a visit to the SAARC Forestry Centre and met its Director Mr. Sangay Wangchuk and his subordinates. During the meeting, the Director briefed the Secretary-General on the ongoing activities of the Centre.

On 23 May, the Secretary-General opened the Meeting of the National Focal Points of SAARC Member States convened to prepare the Terms of Reference for the strengthening of SAARC Mechanisms, including the Secretariat and Regional Centres.

Mr. Pema L. Dorji, Director, SAARC Secretariat, accompanied the Secretary-General to these meetings and visits in Thimphu.

Seventh Meeting of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions / Equivalent Bodies (Thimphu, 19 – 20 April 2012)

2012-04-23

The Seventh Meeting of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions / Equivalent Bodies was held under the auspices of the Royal Government f Bhutan and was inaugurated by His Excellency Thakur S. Powdyel, Hon’able Minister of Education of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

The Meeting while taking stock of implementation of decisions taken at the Sixth Meeting of  the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions / Equivalent Bodies (Dhaka, 18 – 19 July 2010), made a number of recommendations with a view to benchmarking the higher education standards among SAARC Member States. In this regard, the Meeting deliberated on mutual recognition of professional degrees, achieving a goal of a common regional educational standard and quality assurance and accreditation mechanism.

The Meeting, inter alia, deliberated upon ways forward in developing a credit transfer system within SAARC Universities, identifying common research themes as well as developing a web portal to share best practices in higher education and exchange of expertise among the Member States.  

The Meeting welcomed the new offers of scholarships made by Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka further shared with the delegations information regarding one hundred (100) scholarships given by the Government of Sri Lanka to foreign students including those from the SAARC region. The scholarships that are offered annually by the Governments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal are expected to continue in 2012 – 2013 as well.

The intention shown by the Sri Lanka to offer Chair and Fellowship positions in the near future was welcomed by the Meeting.

Matters related to Open and Distance Learning (ODL) were also taken into consideration and the Meeting welcomed the offer of Sri Lanka to host a workshop on ‘MOODLE’ to transform web based study materials for the benefit of South Asian students who are undertaking ODL studies.

A number of activities including A Regional Conference on the Status of Higher Education in South Asia (to be hosted by India) and a Debate Contest among University Students (to be hosted by Pakistan) are expected to take place in the year 2012 – 2013.

The Meeting recommended that the SAARC Secretariat explore avenues in building linkages with agencies with which SAARC has MoUs in the area of education / higher education as recommended by the First Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Education / Higher Education (Colombo, 26 March 2009).

The Seventh Meeting of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions / Equivalent Bodies was successfully concluded in Thimphu on 19 – 20 April 2012.

Second Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Expert Group on Climate Change, SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, 16-17 April 2012

2012-04-17  The Second Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Expert Group on Climate Change was held at the SAARC Secretariat on 16-17 April 2012. The Inter-Governmental Expert Group on Climate Change was established by the Thimphu Statement on Climate Change with the mandate to monitor and review the implementation of the Thimphu Statement on Climate Change and make recommendations to facilitate its implementation.

The Thimphu Statement on Climate Change which was adopted by the Heads of State or Government of Member States of SAARC at the Sixteenth SAARC Summit (Thimphu, 28-29 April 2010) contains a number of initiatives to be implemented at the national and regional level to address the adverse effects of climate change.

The First Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Expert Group on Climate Change was held in Colombo on 29-30 June 2011. The Second Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Expert Group on Climate Change took stock of the progress made towards the implementation of the various initiatives since its first meeting and made a number of recommendations to ensure timely implementation of the Thimphu Statement.

Among others, Member States provided updates on the initiatives being undertaken at the national level with regard to the implementation of the Dhaka Declaration and Action Plan on Climate Change. The meeting also reviewed the status of implementation of the SAARC Inter-governmental Mountain Initiative by the SAARC Forestry Center; the Climate-related Disasters Initiative by the SAARC Disaster Management Center; the Monsoon Initiative by the SAARC Meteorological Research Center; and the Marine Initiative by the SAARC Coastal Zone Management Center. It also took stock of the progress made with regard to commissioning the SAARC Regional Study on “Climate Risks in the region: ways to comprehensively address the related social, economic and environmental challenges”.

The Third Meeting of Inter-governmental Expert Group on Climate Change will be held in the last quarter of 2012.

Secretary-General of SAARC paid a courtesy call on Rt.Hon'ble Dr.Baburam Bhattarai, Prime Minister of Nepal, on 23rd March 2012

2012-03-23

SAARC Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem paid a courtesy call on Rt.Hon’ble, Dr.Baburam Bhattarai, Prime Minister of Nepal this afternoon at his office in Singha Durbar.  

During the meeting, Rt.Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Secretary General discussed matters of mutual interest between Nepal and SAARC.  Prime Minister Bhattarai emphasized on the strengthening of SAARC and stated that he is committed to extend all necessary support to make SAARC process more vibrant.  

The Meeting was also attended by Dr. Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat, Director, SAARC Secretariat.

Secretary-General of SAARC called on H.E. Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha 'Prakash' Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Nepal on 21 March 2012

2012-03-21

SAARC Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Nepal, H.E. Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha 'Prakash', today at Singha Durbar.

H.E. Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha 'Prakash' stated that he is pleased with the appointment of Mr. Ahmed Saleem, owing to his vast experience in the international arena and his acquaintance with the SAARC. 

The Secretary-General and the Honorable Minister together underscored the fact that as a host of decisions have already been made by the SAARC, it is pertinent to take action on implementing these decisions without delay. Further, matters relating to the advancements made in the SAARC process were also discussed in general.

The Secretary General took this opportunity to thank the Government of Nepal for the excellent cooperation and the unstinted support extended by the Government as the host of the SAARC Secretariat since its inception.

On the behalf of the Government of Nepal the Hon. Minister assured the Secretary-General that every effort will be taken by the Nepalese Government to facilitate the activities and the smooth functioning of the SAARC Secretariat.

The Meeting was also attended by Mrs. R.D. Rajapakse, Director & Dr. Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat, Director,  SAARC Secretariat.

Secretary-General of SAARC called on H.E. Durga Prasad Bhattari, Foreign Secretary of Nepal on 19 March 2012

2012-03-19

SAARC Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem met with the Foreign Secretary of Nepal, H.E. Durga Prasad Battarai today at Singha Durbar.

The Foreign Secretary welcomed the SAARC Secretary-General and expressed confidence that SAARC will achieve new heights under the stewardship of the Secretary-General who possesses a wealth of professional experience.

Many issues pertaining to the progress of SAARC and the directives given by the higher SAARC bodies to bring in further improvements into the SAARC process were also discussed.

The Foreign Secretary assured the SAARC Secretary-General of the fact that the Government of Nepal would extend its fullest support for the effective functioning of the SAARC Secretariat.

The Meeting was also attended by Mr. Ganesh Dakal, Under-Secretary (SAARC Division) and Mr. Dhana Bahadur Oli, Under-Secretary (UN Division) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal and Mrs. R.D. Rajapakse, Director (SAARC Secretariat).

SAARC Secretary General meets EU delegation

2012-03-19

SAARC Secretary General, Mr Ahmed Saleem along with two Directors of SAARC Secretariat, Mr Amrit Lugun and Mr Tareque Muhammad met Ambassador Viorel Isticioaia Budura, Managing Director for Asia and Pacific, European External Action Service and Ambassador Dr Alexander Spachis, Head of Delegation of EU to Nepal on March 19, 2012 in Kathmandu.

During the meeting the EU delegation expressed its keenness to broaden its engagement with SAARC by extending cooperation in a wide range of areas. The Secretary General welcomed EU’s interests in SAARC and reiterated that by working together, SAARC and EU could achieve significant progress in the coming days. The Secretary General pointed out the need to devise an appropriate cooperation arrangement to garner EU’s support in SAARC activities.

The two sides explored possibilities of cooperation, inter alia, in the areas of trade facilitation, connectivity, agriculture and SAARC Development Fund or SDF and any other area that may emerge in future. Both sides agreed to remain engaged to work out a framework of cooperation for the consideration of the SAARC Member States.  

First Meeting of SAARC Sectoral Technical Committee on Food and Agricultural Products & Eighth Meeting of SAARC Standards Coordination Board (SAARC Secretariat, 24-26 August 2011)

2011-08-30

The first meeting of the SAARC  Sectoral Technical Committee on Food and Agricultural Products was held in the SAARC Secretariat on 24th August 2011. This was followed by the Eighth Meeting of the SAARC Standards Coordination Board on 25th and 26th August 2011.

The main outcomes/highlights of the above two meetings are as follows;

1.    After detailed deliberations, draft proposed SAARC Standards on refined sugar, biscuits and instant noodles have been formulated with respect to the three products. The member states would hold consultations with their stakeholders on the drafts and send their comments to the SAARC Secretariat for circulation among all Member States so that these could be recommended to the higher bodies for consideration and adoption.

2.    With the ratification of the agreement on the establishment of South Asian Regional Standards Organization or SARSO by Afghanistan, all member states have now ratified the agreement. As per the provisions in the agreement, a notification for the establishment of SARSO was issued by the SAARC Secretariat on 25th August 2011. With this notification, the SAARC Standards Coordination Board stands dissolved. The first meeting of the SARSO Governing board is expected to take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh by December this year.

3.    Harmonization of standards will now be attempted in the areas of building materials and jute, textiles and leather in the next three months.   

Fourth Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Interior/Home and its preceding meetings, Thimphu, 21-23 July 2011

2011-07-24

The Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Ministers of Interior / Home preceded by the Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Secretaries of Interior / Home and the Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Immigration Authorities were concluded in Thimphu from 21 – 23 July 2011 with participation from all SAARC Member States.

The Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Ministers of Interior / Home was attended by the Interior / Home Ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives and Pakistan.

The inaugural address at the Ministerial Meeting was delivered by Hon’able Chief Guest, H.E. Lyonchchen Jigmi Y. Thinley, Hone’able Prime Minister of Bhutan and Chair of SAARC. His Excellency stated that “preventing terrorism was about preserving our common values such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Therefore, political resilience in being committed to a future of development, security and well-being for our partnership is a critical factor for regional peace and stability.”

H.E. Uz. Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, Secretary-General of SAARC, while addressing the inaugural session stated “that scourge of terrorism has severely affected our region, causing extensive loss of human life, and colossal damage to and destruction of property and it has also threatened peace, harmony and good neighbourly relations, adversely impinging upon the prospects of regional cooperation among one another.” She further emphasized that the question of maritime security is of all the more relevance to our countries given SAARC’s objective of promoting intra-regional connectivity through all modes of transport, including through sea connectivity. She mentioned that the Indian Ocean Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service/Network involving initially India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, is hoped to be launched by the end of this year.

The steps taken by SAARC Member States in the implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol, the SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution and the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangement for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia were discussed at the Meeting.

The Ministers also considered and recommended the Reports of the Fourth Meeting of SAARC Immigration Authorities (Thimphu, 21 July 2011) and the Report of the Fourth Meeting of SAARC Secretaries of Interior / Home (Thimphu, 22 July 2011). Further the Ministerial Meeting considered and made relevant recommendations and approved the Reports of the Fourth Meetings of the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) and the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD) and the Ninth SAARC Police Conference on Cooperation in Police Matters, which were all held in Colombo, from 4 – 5 April 2011.

For the first time in the history of SAARC, matters related to Maritime Security and Piracy were taken up for discussion among the Ministers and due recommendations were made on the steps to be taken by Member States, which are to be discussed in the forthcoming Meetings of Ministers of Interior / Home and related Meetings.  

At this Meeting the Maldives offered to host the Fifth Meeting of the SAARC Ministers of Interior / Home preceded by the Fifth Meeting of the SAARC Secretaries of Interior/Home and the Fifth Meeting of SAARC Immigration Authorities in 2012.   India is expected to host the Fifth Meetings of the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) and the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD) and the Tenth SAARC Police Conference on Cooperation in Police Matters in June 2012.

The Fifth Meeting of the SAARC Technical Committee on Women, Youth and Children

2011-07-18

The Fifth Meeting of the SAARC Technical Committee on Women, Youth and Children was held in Kabul from 16-17 July 2011. The Meeting was attended by all the SAARC Member States. The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Prof. Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavi, Technical and Policy Deputy Minister of Ministry of Women’s Affairs in her capacity as Leader of the Delegation of Afghanistan and current Chair of the Technical Committee.

The Meeting while following up on its previous decisions, made recommendations for the expeditious implementation of the project proposal which were identified during the previous sessions of the Meeting. To this end, the Meeting agreed to identify Focal Points in each Member State.

To further enhance SAARC’s cooperation with UN Women under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Meeting endorsed SAARC Gender Equality and Empowerment Programme.

The Meeting finalized the In-depth Assessment Report of the implementation of the SAARC Decade of the Rights of Child (2001-2010) and recommended the Secretariat to launch the Assessment Report during the Seventeenth SAARC Summit (Maldives, November 2011).

The Meeting also recommended course of action for revival of SAARC Youth Volunteers’ Programme and for developing SAARC Youth Action Plan.

Media Exchange Programme, Islamabad, 5-6 July 2011

2011-07-12

SAARC Information Centre (SIC), Kathmandu, in coordination with the Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, organized a ‘Media Exchange Programme in Islamabad on 5-6 July 2011.  Dr. Firdous Aashiq Awan, Pakistan’s Minister of Information & Broadcasting, inaugurated the Programme as the Chief Guest.  At the conclusion of the Programme, the following recommendations were made:

  1. Every meeting and seminar or workshop organized by SIC should start with Action Taken Report on the status of previous related recommendations.

  2. SIC may write to the member countries to examine the possibilities of instituting at least one internship and one fellowship for media persons from other SAARC countries. These can be sponsored either by the governments or financed by the private sector groups or by the educational institutions. In case, sponsorships are not forthcoming, a fund may be set aside for the purpose in the SIC budget.

  3. Regular Annual meeting of Information Ministers needs to be revived. The matter may be taken up on the priority basis with the higher bodies of SAARC through SIC GB.

  4. Information and Broadcasting Secretaries of the member countries should meet to review the status of recommendations of various bodies pertaining to media exchange.

  5. Member countries may designate a coordinating officer to liaise with SIC. Special allowances for the incumbent will be provided by SIC. The incumbent should have a fixed tenure of at least two years.

  6. SIC should request the member countries to facilitate down-linking of channels, specially the national public broadcasters from the member countries in concurrence with local laws. It will contribute to the spirit of ‘building bridges’- the theme of forthcoming SAARC Summit.

  7. SIC shall approach the member countries for compilation of rules and guidelines regarding conducting media exchanges (such as permission for shooting, investment, content sharing or any other related activity) and the compilations will be made available on SIC website.

  8. A SAARC media award may be instituted. Nominations may be invited through open advertisement on SIC website and related platforms in the member states. Guidelines and modalities of the award shall be circulated among the member countries before adoption. SIC will be the nodal agency.

  9. SIC’s presence on social media network need to be established. SIC shall create a Facebook page. SIC will also create presence on Twitter, You Tube and blogs.

  10. Link of SIC website shall be on the websites of the coordinating ministries of the member states.

  11. SAARC News Network for news agency level cooperation need to be established.

Secretary-General Dhiyana Saeed visits Sri Lanka

2011-06-24
As part of introductory visits to Member States, H. E. Uz. Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, Secretary-General of SAARC, visited Sri Lanka from 20 to 22 June 2011.   
 
While in Colombo, H. E. Uz. Dhiyana Saeed called on H. E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka. During the meeting, the President conveyed his Government’s firm commitment to making SAARC a vibrant organization for the common good of the peoples of South Asia.   
 
During the visit, the Secretary-General also called on H. E. Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka.  At the meeting, the Minister and the Secretary-General exchanged views on a wide range of issues pertaining to regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC.
 
H. E. Uz. Dhiyana Saeed also met H. E. Mr. K. Amunugama, Secretary/External Affairs of Sri Lanka. At the meeting, the Secretary-General expressed her gratitude to the Government of Sri Lanka for endorsing her appointment as the tenth Secretary-General of SAARC.  The Foreign Secretary and the Secretary-General also exchanged views on SAARC matters, particularly those relating to intra-regional trade and intra-regional connectivity. 
 
While in Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General also visited the SAARC Cultural Centre and held discussions with its Director and staff.  
 
Since assuming office in March this year, Secretary-General Dhiyana Saeed has paid introductory visits to the Maldives, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, and is expected to pay a visit to Afghanistan in the first week of July. She has also paid introductory calls on the high dignitaries in Nepal.

Fifth SAFTA Ministerial Council Meeting (Male, 13th June 2011)

2011-06-22

The Fifth Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council was hosted by Maldives in Male on 13th June 2011. All SAARC Member States participated in the meeting. While Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka were represented by their concerned ministers; Nepal and Pakistan were represented by the concerned Secretaries of their respective Ministries.

The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts and the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Sub-group on Non-tariff Measures which were held on 11th and 12th June, 2011.  The Secretary General of SAARC inaugurated the meetings of SAFTA Ministerial Council and the SAFTA Committee of Experts. Maldives as the host chaired all the meetings.

The SAFTA Ministerial Council adopted the reports of the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts and the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Sub-group on Non-tariff Measures.
 
Some of the important decisions and understandings arrived at the meetings are as follows:

  1. The sensitive lists are to be pruned down as much as possible. Before the next SAARC Summit, at least 20 percent reduction in the current list is to be done. Based on request from other countries, attempts toward further reduction in the sensitive list will be made by each member country.

  2. Bangladesh will finalise terms of reference for a study on how to increase exports of items from Least Developing Countries to the non-Least Developing Countries after it receives inputs from other Least Developing Countries.

  3. Afghanistan has formally been inducted into the SAFTA Trade Libralisation Programme (TLP). The provisions of the TLP will be applicable to Afghanistan with effect from 7th August 2011 as per the notification issued by the SAARC Secretariat. Afghanistan will be presenting a linear tariff reduction schedule for consideration of member states in this regard.

  4. It was observed that the TLP plan is progressing as provided for in the SAFTA.

  5. For better trade prospects in the region, the Member States should make their offers on the principle of GATS plus while conducting negotiations under SAARC agreement on trade in services.

  6. With regard to sub-group on non-tariff measures, it was noted that the major work of submitting notifications on NTMs/PTMs, responses and counter-responses has been completed. Therefore the remaining work of the group will be taken over by the SAFTA committee of experts.

  7. The next meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council will be held in Islamabad, Pakistan

Secretary General's visit to SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre, Male'

2011-06-15  On an official visit to Maldives, the SAARC Secretary General H.E. Uz. Fathimath Dhiyana Saaed visited SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre on 14th June 2011. During her visit she met the Director and the staff of the Centre. Mr. Hassan Shifaau, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldives and Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Director SAARC attended the meeting. Director of the Centre, Dr. Shiham thanked the Secretary General for visiting the Centre and expressed appreciation for the opportunity to discuss the issues to the Centre with Secretary General.

During the meeting she interacted with the officials of the Centre and  assessed the Centre’s working  and performance. She highlighted that being a  Centre of excellence its expected that the Centre should develop and implement programme and make significant contribution to meet the emerging environmental challenges and concerns in the region  particularly in relation to coastal zones. The Director of the Centre, Dr. M. Shiham Adam briefly appraised   the Secretary General on the ongoing  programme  activities of the Centre including the  programme implementation and achievements during the current year.  He also highlighted and pressed upon  the problems faced  by the Centre in programme implementation and  recruitment of  suitable  staff. Madame Secretary General highlighted  the need and  relevance for developing partnership with local government and civil society organizations  in programme  implementation of the Centre.

At the end of meeting, the Secretary General suggested to the Director to come up with plan of action to enhance the capacity of the centre to make meaningful contribution in area of coastal zone management in the region.

Media Workshop on SAARC held in New Delhi on 6-7 June 2011

2011-06-12

SAARC information Centre, Kathmandu, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Mass Communications, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, organized a ‘Media Workshop on SAARC’ in New Delhi on 6-7 June 2011. 

1.    The workshop took note of various initiatives taken by the SAARC for the last 25 years particularly SAARC Social Charter, Charter of Democracy, SAFTA, Food Bank, South Asian University, SAARC Development Fund. These initiatives are significant for socio-economic development of the region.

2.    The workshop noted that the SAARC Secretariat through the SAARC Information Centre (SIC) is making concerted efforts to take the activities and achievements of SAARC to the wider audience within and outside region. For this the SIC is working towards creating a strong network of communication both inside the SAARC region and beyond.

3.    The two - day workshop held at Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi (06-07 June 2011) was attended by delegates from Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Director (IPA), SAARC Secretariat also attended.

4.    After extensive deliberations on the SAARC Plan of Action on Information and Media (1998), the workshop made the following unanimous recommendations:

i)SIC should function as Regional Media hub for the dissemination of information about SAARC initiatives, programmes and activities.

ii)    SIC should develop linkages with existing government information systems in the member countries like Press Information Bureau (PIB), Press Information Department (PID).

iii)    SIC should hold a meeting of Heads of leading News Agencies of member countries to forge closer cooperation for better flow of information regarding SAARC activities.

iv)    SIC should organize a meeting of Media Heads and Editors of the region before every SAARC Summit.

v)    Revive and enlarge SAARC Audio Visual Exchange (SAVE).

vi)    SIC should encourage joint production of documentaries on common issues of the region.

vii)    SIC should organize every year a SAARC Film Festival on a rotation basis in member countries in coordination with their respective film festival authorities.

viii)    SIC should organize orientation workshops for media persons on regular basis in cooperation with training institutes of the member countries.

ix)    SIC should organize a workshop of representatives of various media training institutions of the region to develop a SAARC orientation module to be included in the syllabi of media training institutes in the member countries.

x)    SIC should organize a meeting of experts from the region to evolve SAARC guidelines on transnational satellite broadcasting.

xi)    The increasing role of SIC in taking SAARC to masses requires more resources from the member states.

The Fifth Review Meeting of the SAARC Gender Info Base, Kathmandu, 7-8 June 2011 June 8, 2011

2011-06-08 The 5th review meeting of the SAARC Gender Info Base, a joint initiative between the SAARC and UN WOMEN, was held at SAARC Secretariat on the 7th and 8th of June, 2011. The meeting was inaugurated by the Director of Social Affairs Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree and chaired by the Maldivian Deputy Minister of Health, Ms. Fathmath Afiya.

During the meeting, the SAARC Gender Equality and Empowerment Programme was proposed with SGIB as the central component. The main objective of the proposal is to reprogram the approach in order to address the realization of the other objectives which are in line with the overall MoU of SAARC & UN Women. While SGIB has 5 major objectives, the current project approach is limited by the predisposition to just one objective that deals with the development of a regional resource database by collecting, processing and analyzing gender related information in the region. After comprehensive deliberations on the proposal, the meeting recommended that SAARC Secretariat may submit a detailed proposal to the Technical Committee on Women, Youth and Children for its consideration. Furthermore, the Meeting also discussed the importance of uploading and updating data on the website as frequently as possible so that it could become a major source of information on women empowerment in the region and a hub for new regional initiatives, research and projects.

The meeting was attended by the country focal points from the Member States and senior officials from UN WOMEN.

The Meeting welcomed the offer of Sri Lanka to host the Sixth Review Meeting of SAARC Gender Info Base in 2012. The Meeting also welcomed the offer of Maldives to host the Fourth Meeting of the Focal Points during December 2011.

Headquarters Agreement between the Government of Nepal and the SAARC Secretariat for the SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre and the SAARC Information Centre signed on 3rd June 2011

2011-06-03

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, His Excellency Mr.Upendra Yadav and the Secretary General of SAARC, Her Excellency Uz.Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed today signed two Headquarters Agreement between the Government of Nepal and the SAARC Secretariat for the SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre and the SAARC Information Centre.  The signing ceremony was attended by the Foreign Secretary and other senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal.  During the signing ceremony Directors of both the Regional Centres and the concerned Directors from the SAARC Secretariat were also present.

The Heads of State or Government during Male Summit held in November 1990 decided to establish the SAARC Tuberculosis Centre and was renamed as SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre in November 2007.  The SAARC Information Centre was established in 2005.  The Agreements will provide an overall framework for the smooth functioning and operation of the Centres as the “Centres of Excellence” in their field of activities and for regulating the relations between the Centres and the Government of Nepal.


Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan visits Nepal

2011-04-13

His Excellency Hon. Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan, in his capacity as SAARC Chair, is visiting Nepal from April 14 to 16, 2011.  On arrival at Tribhvan International Airport on 14th April, Prime Minister Thinley will be received by the Prime Minister of Nepal Rt. Hon’ble Jhala Nath Khanal, apart from Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, SAARC Ambassadors and Officer in charge of the SAARC Secretariat.

During his visit to Nepal, Prime Minister Thinley is scheduled to meet the President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries of Nepal.  He is expected to discuss various issues relating to cooperation under SAARC.