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.”