Press Release

The SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka convened its 13th Governing Board Meeting at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo from 28th to 29th November 2023. In a pioneering move, the meeting embraced a hybrid format, hosting esteemed Governing Board Members physically from Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, while Bhutan, India, and Nepal participated virtually,

The distinguished Governing Board Members were Mizanur Rahman, Joint Secretary (Administration) of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh; Tshering Choki, Senior Programme Officer, Ministry of Home Affairs of Bhutan; Yash Veer Singh, Director, International Cultural Relations of the Ministry of Culture of India; Shamun Hameed, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Dhivehi Language, Culture and Heritage of Maldives; Dr. Suresh Suras Shrestha, Head of Division/Joint Secretary, Culture Division of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal; Humaira Ahmed, Secretary, National Heritage and Culture Division of Pakistan; and Somarathne Vidanapathirana, Secretary, Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka.

The ex-officio members, T.P. Dharmasena, Director-General of SAARC Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka; Irosha Cooray, Director – Education, Security and Culture Division, SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, Nepal; and Renuka Ekanayake, Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Sri Lanka.

Ms. Ekanayake, the Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre presented to the Governing Board a Report on the Centre’s activities for 2023 and outlined the proposed programs for 2024.

The Governing Board commended the activities conducted by the SAARC Cultural Centre in the year 2023, which included collaborative ventures such as an Exhibition of Paintings with the Royal Asiatic Society, SAARC Talk Series, SAARC Special Lectures in partnership with entities like the Department of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, and National Library and Documentation Services Board and the SAARC Film Day in collaboration with the National Film Corporation. 

The Board approved the proposed programmes and activities for the year 2024, with Member States pledging their full support.

"The SAARC Secretariat, together with the SAARC Cultural Centre, looks forward to an exciting 2024, marked by Food Festivals, Film Festivals, Musical Extravaganzas, Textile and Fashion events, Artists Camps, Research Seminars, and Workshops. The Secretariat anticipates a vibrant year of cultural rejuvenation across the SAARC Region, showcasing resilience and rebuilding post pandemic for further cementing SAARC fraternity.


SAARC Secretariat

Kathmandu, 07 December 2023

E. Mr. Golam Sarwar, Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and spouse, Madam Taslima Sarwar, visited Maldives from 16-20 November 2023, for the Presidential Inauguration of H.E Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, President of the Republic of Maldives, held on 17 November 2023.

During his visit Secretary-General called on President Dr Muizzu and expressed gratitude for extending an invitation for the Presidential Inauguration ceremony. Secretary-General congratulated the President on assuming office and praised the President on his powerful and inspiring inaugural address. They discussed the importance of collaboration and engagement between the SAARC member states. President Dr. Muizzu assured Maldives support in strengthening relation between the SAARC member states.

Additionally, Secretary-General also met with former Secretary-General of SAARC, H.E Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Ambassador-at-Large at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives. They discussed the ongoing work of SAARC Secretariat and collaboration between member states.

Secretary-General was accompanied by Ms. Shahiya Ali Manik, Director, Social Affairs of the SAARC Secretariat, during his visit to Maldives. 


24 November 2023,

Kathmandu, Nepal

The Fifth Meeting of SAARC Council of Experts of Energy Regulators-Electricity (CEERE) was hosted by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on
14-15 November 2023, in Islamabad. The Meeting was held with the support of the Asian Development Bank.


The Meeting was inaugurated by Mr. Waseem Mukhtar, Chairman, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), Government of Pakistan. In his inaugural address, the Chief Guest extended a warm welcome to the delegates from SAARC Member States, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) and other Energy Related Institutions.


The Chief Guest, in his address, stated that SAARC is home to more than 20% of the world population and offers more potential for regional cooperation than any other region in the world. Given the geographical proximity, there is a great potential for SAARC Member States to collaborate in a number of areas, including energy. He said that a lot needs to be done in the electricity market for availability of reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity.  He emphasized on the need to harmonize the laws/rules/regulations in order to achieve the objective of cross-border electricity trade. He also underscored that cross-border trade of electricity can be helpful in improving electricity access in the region and play a major role to overcome challenges to sustain rapid economic growth.


The Heads of Delegations of the Member States presented an overview of the energy sector of their respective countries with focus on the legal and regulatory framework, power import/export status, power trading arrangements, guidelines and priority projects for cross-border trade of electricity, potential interconnections, challenges/barriers for power trading and way forward for energy security and regional energy cooperation and integration. The Delegates also highlighted the status of market readiness and expressed willingness for promoting Regional Energy Trade.


The SAARC Council of Experts of Energy Regulators (Electricity) was formed in 2016 with focus on the role, functioning and performance of electricity regulators in the perspective of cross border power trading in South Asia. Overall aim of the Council is to provide enabling regulatory environment for materializing SAARC Energy Ring through implementation of the SAARC Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation (Electricity).


SAARC Secretariat

Kathmandu, 15 November 2023

H. E. Mr. Md. Golam Sarwar, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid a courtesy call on Hon’ble N. P. Saud, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Chair of the SAARC Council of Ministers, today. The Council comprises distinguished Foreign Ministers of the Member States of SAARC.

The Hon’ble Foreign Minister congratulated the Secretary General on his appointment and wished him every success during his tenure. He expressed the confidence that SAARC will make further progress, given the Secretary General’s vast knowledge and experience as a career diplomat of Bangladesh.

The Hon’ble Foreign Minister underscored the need to give further momentum to the SAARC process in attaining the objectives, as enshrined in the Charter.

During the meeting, the Secretary General conveyed heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Nepal over the recent tragic earthquake in Western Nepal, which took lives of many people and caused colossal damage to properties.

The Secretary General expressed sincere gratitude to the Government of Nepal for endorsing his nomination as the fifteenth Secretary General of SAARC. He appreciated the constructive role played by Nepal to strengthen SAARC since its inception. He lauded the initiative of Nepal to host the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu. He thanked the Government of Nepal for extending every support to the SAARC Secretariat since its establishment.

The Secretary General praised the sustained efforts of Nepal, as current Chair of SAARC, in steering the SAARC process.  He looked forward to receiving continued support and guidance from the Government of Nepal in reinvigorating the SAARC process for the common good of peoples in the region.

In response and referring to the potential of SAARC of delivering prosperity to the region, the Hon’ble Minister reiterated the commitment of Nepal to re-energize the SAARC process, together with the Member States, to achieve this common objective. 


SAARC Secretariat,

Kathmandu, 09 November 2023