By A Staff Reporter Kathmandu, Nov. 4

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha Friday said that the provisions in SAARC Charter have posed practical difficulties in raising regional and Bilateral issues because such issues must get approval from all member nations.

Addressing People's SAARC National Consultation Meeting organized by NGO Federation of Nepal on the occasion of the upcoming 17 " SAARC Summit, DPM Shrestha voiced his concern over the difficulties in raising different issues at the regional summit meeting of the eight nations. "As the South Asian nations have diverse socio-economic, geographical and demographic status, the issues are needed to be raised at the regional level in a consolidated way."

However, the charter of the regional body has the provision making all decisions through mutual faith and understanding on the basis of consensus and collaboration, DPM Shrestha said.

Saying that the concept of South Asia Free Trade Arrangement (SAFTA) has already been executed to extend the opportunities of economic growth and progress in South Asian nations, he, however, made it clear that the SAFTA could not meet the goal of expanding business as per the expectation.

Plans and programmes of the SAARC should be prioritized on providing direct benefits to the people of all member states from the past several years, he said.

Praising the people's concern over the SAARC regarding its objectives, DPM Shrestha said that the SAARC Development Fund was introduced for the development of the prerequisites and poverty eradication in South Asia where highest number of the poor are resided.

Dr. Netra Timilsina, Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, Dr. Sarbaraj Khadka, Sharmila Karki, Kapil Shrestha among others shed light on the issues of the upcoming SAARC summit scheduled on 10 to 11 November in Maldives.

Source: The Rising Nepal (5 Nov. 2011)