South Asian foreign ministers on Thursday stressed the need for reinvigorating regional cooperation with removing impediments to the SAARC for meeting aspirations of people.
They spoke at an informal virtual meeting of foreign ministers of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation member countries.
Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said that countries in the region had invested heavily to build up the SAARC as a regional organisation over several decades and various institutions were developed to cater need of the people.
The countries in the region are now in need to utilise resources and strength of the SAARC for post-pandemic reconstruction to serve the people, he said.
Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar called upon the SAARC member states to collectively resolve to defeat the ‘scourge of terrorism’, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage an environment of terror and conflict, which impeded the objective of the SAARC to realise its full potential for collective collaboration and prosperity across South Asia, according to a press release of Indian external affairs ministry.
Pakistan foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his statement reiterated willingness for hosting the 19th SAARC Summit at Islamabad.
He expressed hope that the ‘artificial obstacles’ created in its way would be removed and the SAARC would be allowed to function as an effective instrument of regional cooperation.
Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali presided over the meeting.
He underscored the importance of collective efforts for strengthening regional cooperation and reinvigorating the SAARC process to make it more focused and result-oriented in meeting the hopes and aspirations of the people of South Asia.
Foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka also spoke on the occasion.
SAARC secretary general Esala Ruwan Weerakoon presented a progress report on regional cooperation since the last informal meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers.
Referring to the SAARC Charter, he said that the association holds the potential to promote effective regional cooperation in every sphere of development, including for addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Sluggishness has crept into the SAARC with no political impetus from top leaders of all eight member countries as they could not meet in the last five years in violation of a commitment the countries jointly made in 2014 to hold summit ‘every two years or earlier,’ experts said on various occasions.
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