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18th SAARC Summit program starts today
22 Nov 2014

KOSH RAJ KOIRALA

KATHMANDU, Nov 22 : The 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit program is formally beginning in Kathmandu on Saturday with a meeting of the SAARC Programming Committee.

Country delegations led by joint secretaries at the foreign ministries of SAARC member states have already arrived in Kathmandu to take part in the Programming Committee meeting. "The program of the 18th SAARC Summit begins from tomorrow [Saturday] with the start of the Programming Committee meeting," said Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey.

Addressing a press conference organized at the ministry Friday to inform about the preparations made to host the SAARC Summit scheduled for November26-27, Minister Pandey said both substantive and logistical preparations have been nearly completed. "There will be a Standing Committee meeting at the level of foreign secretaries on November 23-24, a Council of Ministers meeting on November 25 and a Summit-level meeting on November 26-27," he said.

Minister Pandey said all the agenda and issues to be agreed during this Summit will be discussed first at the level of the Programming Committee and then at the higher bodies.

"If there are any issues unresolved at the level of the Program Committee or the Standing Committee, the 36th meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers will finalize them with consent from the heads of government or state concerned," he said.

On the occasion, Pandey said a draft of the SAARC declaration has already been sent to the member states for their input and feedback, and the various levels of SAARC meetings will finalize the document after discussions.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is scheduled to inaugurate the SAARC Summit on November 26 in his capacity as special guest. "As discussions at the Summit are held only within the SAARC framework, we have arranged a retreat for the visiting SAARC leaders to give them an opportunity to hold discussions in an open and informal environment," said Pandey.

He further informed that they have arranged time for bilateral meetings for the SAARC heads of state and government after lunch on the first day of the Summit. They will attend a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Koirala in the evening.

On the second day of the Summit, the SAARC leaders will be taken to Dhulikhel for a retreat in the morning. The leaders will have an opportunity to hold informal talks for over two hours before they are flown back to Kathmandu after lunch.

The SAARC leaders will then attend the closing ceremony and witness the signing of three different SAARC-level agreements related to enhancing connectivity within the region. President Dr Ram Baran Yadav is scheduled to host a dinner at Shital Niwas later in the evening in honor of the visiting heads of state and government.

Besides the SAARC dignitaries, representatives from nine various Observers of SAARC are also arriving in Kathmandu for the Summit. While they will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Koirala, the Observer representatives will be paying a courtesy call jointly on President Dr Yadav on November 27. They will also participate in the dinner reception hosted by the president at Shital Niwas.

Minister Pandey expressed confidence that the bilateral meetings with SAARC leaders and representatives of various observer states will be helpful in the constitution-drafting process and Nepal´s pursuit of economic development. "If we are able to give out a message that Nepal is a safe destination for investment, this can be equally helpful for bringing about economic development in the country," he said.

PM inspects preparations for SAARC Summit

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Friday made a sudden inspection of infrastructure and other logistical preparations for the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu.

Koirala, who heads the national main organizing committee of SAARC Summit, inspected Tribhuvan International Airport, VIP and VVIP lounge, roads, hotel where visiting VVIPs are residing and Rastriya Sabha Griha, the venue for the SAARC Summit.

According to the Prime Minister´s Press Coordinator Prakash Adhikari, Koirala drove through the road from TIA, Sinamangal, Tinkune, New Baneshwar,Maitighar, Tripureshwar, Teku, Kalimati, and Soaltee Hotel and another alternative route from Airport, Gaushala, Chabahil, Maharajgunj and Kalanki to inspect preparations.

Koirala had also inspected the suite at Soaltee Hotel to make sure that proper accommodation arrangements have been made for visiting dignitaries.

On the occasion, he directed officials concerned to provide all necessary services, including communication, and other secretarial services to visiting dignitaries.

Head of the state or the government from India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Afghanistan are scheduled to live in the Soaltee Hotel after their arrival in Kathmandu on November 25.

At TIA, Koirala had inspected arrival and departure lounge, VVIP lounge, waiting rooms and other areas. On the occasion, Koirala directed officials to make sure that the visiting dignitaries get necessary services without hassles. He also asked the officials to pay special attention to sanitation in and around TIA saying the SAARC Summit is linked to national prestige.

After visiting TIA and the Soaltee Hotel, the prime minister had reached Rastriya Sabha Griha, where the summit is being held.

The prime minister inspected stage decoration and seating arrangements there.  He also inspected lighting and sound system and renovation and other decoration works of the building.

Courtesy: My Republica