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19 February, 2020 01:12:40 AM
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Nepal calls for reactivation of SAARC

Diplomatic Correspondent, Dhaka
Nepal calls for reactivation
of SAARC

Terming SAARC as ‘a very instrumental platform’, Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali yesterday urged South Asian leaders to forget their political differences to review their positions for the sake of the 1.8 billion people in the region. He said Nepal wanted reactivation of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). "South Asia was facing problems like terrorism, poverty, climate change, and transnational crimes. Not a single country can address these problems. Joint efforts and collaboration

 are needed to resolve them through a platform like SAARC,” he added.  Gyawali came up with the statement in reply to some queries after his presentation of a keynote speech on ‘Bangladesh–Nepal Relations: Prospects for Sub-regional Cooperation’, organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in the capital.

 State minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam spoke as chief guest on the occasion. BIISS chairman Md Fazlul Karim moderated the event.

 The Nepal foreign minister said: “SAARC was established to link South Asia, which is one of the world’s most advanced regions. But unfortunately we are not integrated like that. Physical, economic, digital, and trade integration is on a lower level here.”   “TThat is why Nepal wants to reactivate the SAARC process. We know that there are big differences between the member nations. But the only way forward is to mitigate the differences to explore new ways of engagement through discussion,” he noted.

 “We encourage the member nations to sit together to narrow down their differences. Putting aside political differences, we should consider problems like terrorism, poverty, climate change, and transnational crimes. These problems are so acute that no single country can address them on its own,”  added the Nepalese minister.  

 He said the SAARC summit had not been held for four years. “But the silver lining is that the rest of the processes are still active in SAARC centres in various cities. Various ministerial and senior official-level meetings are on. So, we hope that the differences would be narrowed down in the near future,” he added.

 “Political leaders of South Asia should review their position and explore new ways to enhance the cooperation because it is the only alternative to address the problems before us,” he observed.

 Regarding the energy sector, Gyawali said: “Nepal wants to use its huge hydro-potential to address the energy crunch at the domestic level as well as at the sub-regional level. Those are the common assets of the region. So, every nation has their own resources, and they should utilise those sources to achieve a win–win situation. Nepal is ready to cooperate in this regard.”

 In reply to a query on the use of Bangladeshi ports, the Nepalese minister said: “We are thankful to Bangladeshis friends for their generosity to provide the transit facility to Nepal. So far, we have been able to use Phulbari–Banglabandh route. In future, Nepal will avail other facilities of rail, road, and seaport facilities provided by Bangladesh.”   He also said both Bangladesh and Nepal were actively in discussion about the potential of the use of inland water routes. Connecting the rivers in Nepal and the Padma in Bangladesh are also being discussed. “River connection would significantly reduce our transport costs,” he added.

 He also said that both Bangladesh and Nepal had agreed to reactivate the expert committee to bring new ideas and recommendations to fully utilise water resources.  “To protect our mountains and sea, we should collaborate as we have ecological linkages,” he added.

 Regarding the recognition of Bangladesh by Nepal in the Liberation War, Gyawali said: “It was your struggle for independence. It was our duty to support you because we strongly believe in democracy and independence. That has added a new dimension of closeness and friendliness.”

 Md Shahriar Alam talked about the friendly relations between the two countries and the mutual cooperation in trade, energy, people-to-people connectivity, and tourism.

IK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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