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Three separate SAARC agreements to be signed

My Republica, 3 November 2014 - Three separate agreements among member states will be signed during the 18th SAARC summit being held in Kathmandu later this month.

According to Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Nepal is making all necessary preparations to sign the SAARC Railway Agreement, SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement and SAARC Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation during the summit scheduled for November 26-27. Foreign Minister from each SAARC member state will be signing the agreements in the presence of their respective head of the government.

This comes in the line with the agreement made during the 17th SAARC summit held in Addu, Maldives to conclude the regional railways agreement and to convene the expert group meeting on the Motor Vehicles Agreement before the next session of the council of ministers; and to direct the early conducting of a demonstration run of a container train (Bangladesh-India-Nepal).

"Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity´ has been set as the theme for this SAARC summit. Though agreed in the previous SAARC summit, experts say the agreements will be equally relevant in line with the theme of the 18th SAARC summit that aims at further deepening integration among member states for peace and prosperity.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said they have asked the Ministry of Physical Planning and Transport and the Ministry of Energy to complete necessary domestic procedures to pave the way for signing in those SAARC regional agreements. As the host country, Nepal has also urged other member states to conclude their domestic procedures relating to those agreements so that they could be signed during the SAARC summit.

Addressing the parliamentary committee on international relations and labor on Sunday, Foreign Minister Pandey had briefed about substantive preparations while Acting Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi apprised the parliamentary committee of the summit preparations made on the logistic front.

Minister Pandey informed that a 31-point draft declaration of the SAARC has already prepared and circulated to all member states through the SAARC Secretariat for their feedback and suggestions. He mentioned that issues such as trade, investment, infrastructure development, South Asian Freed Trade Agreement, SAARC Development Fund, youth employment, reduction of telecom tariff in the region, regional connectivity, promotion of innovative and reliable technology, social security for elderly people, fight against terrorism, eradication of illiteracy from the region and transforming SAARC into South Asian Economic Union by 2030 have been included in the draft.

Addressing the meeting, acting foreign secretary Bairagi informed that logistical preparations for the summit are in the final stage. While the renovation of previous Parliament Gallery and City Hall, where the summit will be held, is in the final stage, maintenance of road leading to Hotel Soaltee and summit venue from Tribhuvan International Airport is underway.

Acting Foreign Secretary Bairagi said preparations are being made to take the visiting heads of the government and the state to Kavre for retreat through helicopters. The government has made accommodation arrangement at Hotel Soaltee for the visiting dignitaries. Though the small countries will have a delegation of about 20 members and big member states about 50 to 70, the government will provide local hospitality to only 13 members from each national delegation.

Secretary Bairagi informed that the government was buying 20 new vehicles and arrange 112 other high-end cars either on hire or through requisition from government offices for the summit. Indian government has already agreed to provide eight bullet proof vehicles for visiting heads of the government during the summit.

During the meeting, lawmakers had expressed concern over the slow pace of beautification and maintenance of Kathmandu roads. The meeting has also formed two separate committees -- one under Bal Bahadur KC to assess logistical preparations and another under Rajan Bhattarai to oversee substantive preparations of the summit.


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