Anil Giri


Nepal is likely to postpone the 18th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) scheduled to be held before May, 2013.

Nepal will convey its inability to convene the summit before September 2013 to all the member states and propose a new date during a regional meeting in New York on the October 1, an official privy to this development said. A meeting of the Saarc Council of Ministers that comprises foreign ministers of member countries is being held in New York on the sidelines of the 67th UN General Assembly. During the 17th Saarc summit in the Maldives, Nepal had unofficially proposed hosting the summit before May 2013.

Officials offered several reasons for Nepal’s inability to host the summit as scheduled and cast doubts on whether it will be able to hold the meeting after September 2013. According to the officials, Maldives’ proposal to host a ministerial level meeting—mini summit—in January will delay the 2013 summit.

“The mini-summit pushed the date further. Had the Maldives convened the meeting around the middle of 2012, we would have felt the urgency to host the summit before May 2013,” a foreign ministry official said. The mini-summit finalises the agendas, dates and venue for the actual summit.

Another reason the officials gave was Nepal’s political situation. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha also agreed that the political standoff has seriously hit preparations for the summit. While his ministry convened only a single to discuss the summit, the Prime Minister’s Office is totally unaware of the developments.

“We need at least eight Mercedes Benz luxury cars for the heads of states or government (for the summit), which we need to import from Germany. No steps have been taken to sanction money needed to purchase the cars. We further need another eight middle-level Benz cars for foreign ministers of the member states. If every thing goes alright, importing these 16 cars will take six to eight months,” officials said.

Yet another reason is logistics, officials said. No serious homework has been done on where to convene the summit. While the International Convention Centre (ICC), considered a viable venue, needs repair, some officials have proposed the National Academy Hall at Kamaladai and some five star hotels.

Nepal has hosted two summits earlier, one in 1987 and the other in 2002, the third and the 11th.

Source:  The Kathmandu Post