Sushma, Jaishankar to attend Saarc meetings in Nepal

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will attend Saarc meetings scheduled to be held at Pokhara in Nepal later this month.

“Joint secretary (Saarc), Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be proceeding to Nepal for Saarc-related meetings in Pokhara between March 14 and 17,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said at a media briefing here on Thursday.

While the 52nd session of the programming committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), which is a director general or joint secretary-level forum, will be held on March 14-15, the 42nd session of the standing committee, which is a foreign secretaries-level forum, will be held on March 16.

“These meetings will prepare the ground for the 37th session of the council of ministers on March 17 which will be attended by the foreign ministers of Saarc,” Swarup said.

“The last round of meetings was held in Kathmandu in November 2014 prior to the 18th Saarc summit.”

The spokesman said that these meetings would offer an opportunity for a comprehensive review of the decisions that have been taken across all Saarc forums over the last one-and-a-half years.

“Our focus would be not only to take stock of these decisions but also work out a way forward on priority issues where a coordinated approach was necessary,” he said.

The status of the agreements that were close to finalisation at the last summit but could not be concluded will also come up for review.

According to Swarup, India is going to seek the views of the other Saarc members on key initiatives mooted by New Delhi in the last summit like the Saarc satellite and the e-knowledge network project.

“As is customary, the working of various Saarc specialised bodies and regional centres will be scrutinised during the meetings and directions given for their work over the coming year,” he said.

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