Kathmandu: Foreign Secretaries from the SAARC countries on Sunday met here in the Nepalese capital to discuss cooperation on a range of issues like combating terrorism, poverty alleviation, energy security and climate change.
Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh and other top diplomats met at the 41st meeting of SAARC Standing Committee ahead of the 18th SAARC Summit scheduled from November 25 to 27.
During the meeting, Maldives Foreign Secretary Mohamed handed over the chair to Nepal's acting Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi.
"As terrorism in all its form and manifestation has remained a formidable challenge for our region, coordinated and concerted efforts are required to tackle the situation," said Bairagi, the SAARC Standing Committee chair.
SAARC's Periodic Analytical Report, Country Reports on SAARC activities, the Reports of the Programming Committee, Report of the 2nd Meeting of SAARC Cabinet Secretaries, economic and financial cooperation and SAARC Development Fund are mainly being discussed in the Standing Committee meeting.
Though poverty alleviation has remained a major agenda of the SAARC for decades, a quarter of our people still lives in poverty and hunger despite our consistent efforts, said Bairagi.
Redoubling of our efforts is absolutely necessary to eradicate poverty and hunger from the regional landscape, he pointed out.
As this region is suffering from acute energy deficit, we can make tremendous progress through meaningful cooperation in this sector, said Bagiragi.
So, trade has a huge potential to make the region a vibrant economic zone and strong commitment and decisive actions are required to fully and effectively implement South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, he added.
The meeting will also consider a number of other areas, including poverty alleviation, information and communication technology, transport, energy, agriculture, rural development and food security, climate change and natural disaster, health and population, narcotic drugs and education among others.
On completion of the day two of deliberations, the Standing Committee will submit its report to the SAARC Council of Ministers, to be convened here on November 25.