Nepal for dialogue to reactivate SAARC

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:06, Feb 19,2020


Nepal on Tuesday stressed the need for the heads of the governments of South Asian countries to engage in a dialogue to reactivate SAARC by holding a summit meeting.   

‘We hope the political leaders of South Asia will review their position [on SAARC] and explore new ways to engage to enhance cooperation,’ Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawal said in Dhaka,  mentioning that it is the only alternative to address the problems 1.8 billion people in the region are now faced with.

He said this at a talk on Bangladesh-Nepal relations and prospects of sub-regional cooperation organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies.

Pradeep Kumar Gyawal was in Dhaka on a three-day bilateral visit starting from Sunday. 

Describing the SAARC as an instrumental platform to change the destiny of 1.8 billion people in the region, he said that the SAARC was established to make a closely linked integrated South Asia. ‘But, unfortunately, we are least integrated…We trade very less among each other. Physically, digitally and economically trade integration is at a lower level.’

Nepal wants to reactivate the SAARC process, Pradeep, who is also current chair of the SAARC Council of Ministers, said. ‘There are deep differences between the member nations. But the only way forward to mitigate the differences is by exploring the new ways through discussions.’

He encouraged the member nations to sit together across the table to narrow down political differences to change the destiny of people in South Asia.

The countries in the region are facing terrorism, poverty, transnational crimes and climate change, he said, adding that no single country could address these problems without resorting to joint efforts and collaboration.

A collaborative approach would be essential at the sub regional level for forging greater cooperation in the areas of establishing connectivity through installing road and rail links as well as areas of energy, power, education, tourism and flood forecast, among others, he said.

Pradeep Kumar Gyawal also led the Nepalese delegation at official talks on Tuesday morning at the State Guest House Meghna with his counterpart AK Abdul Momen. 

In the meeting, Nepal proposed Bangladesh to use of Saidpur Airport as part of strengthening connectivity between the two countries, Moman said, according to United News of Bangladesh.

 ‘We welcome the proposal. We are expanding the airport,’ Momen said in a briefing to reporters on the outcome of the bilateral talks.

The Nepal foreign minister said, ‘Bangladesh has recently permitted Indian company GMR to invest in hydro-power in Nepal that will provide 500 MW of power from Nepal to Bangladesh through Indian company GMR group.’

The two countries have decided to form a taskforce to facilitate increase in trade.

State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam and BIISS chairman M Fuzlul Karim also spoke at the discussion at BIISS.

The last summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was held in 2014.

The next summit, which was scheduled to be held in October 2016 in Islamabad, was called off as most of the eight member

countries, including India and Bangladesh decided not to join it when India sought to isolate Pakistan on allegations of attack on one of its military base in Kashmir that killed 18 soldiers. 

The Nepal minister also called on president Abdul Hamid on Tuesday afternoon.

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