Saarc ministerial meet begin in Nepal

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Kathmandu, March 14 (IANS) The 37th meeting of the Saarc Council of Ministers began on Monday in Nepal’s lake city of Pokhara.

To take part in the meeting, External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj will arrive here on Wednesday while Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will arrive on Tuesday.

Both will meet Nepal government political leaders, including Prime Minister K.P. Oli, and senior officials.

Six foreign ministers of the Saarc member states are participating in the regional meeting which is also called Mini Summit.

Meetings of programme committee at joint secretary- and foreign secretary-levels were scheduled to take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Saarc Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa inaugurated the meeting.

All visiting dignitaries and officials will be flown to Pokhara directly from Kathmandu on a special flight operated by the Nepal Army.

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Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hekmat Khalil Karzai and Pakistan Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz will also participate in the meeting.

The meeting convenes ahead of the upcoming Saarc Summit which also sets the tone for the summit meeting.

The date of the 19th Saarc summit meeting, to be held in Pakistan, is expected to be announced at the Council of Ministers meeting which will also appoint a new Saarc secretary general.

At present, Nepal’s Arjun Bahadur Thapa is the secretary general.

Prime Minister Oli will inaugurate the ministerial meeting on Thursday in Pokhara. He will be meeting visiting foreign ministers from the member states, including India’s Sushma Swaraj.

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