SAARC to review role of observers, dialogue partners optionNovember 12th, 2011 - 12:03 am ICT by IANS
Addu (Maldives), Nov 11 (IANS) With South Asia’s economic heft growing and more countries wishing to join SAARC, the eight-nation regional grouping Friday decided to review all matters relating to its engagement with observers, including the question of dialogue partnership.
At the 17th SAARC summit held in this idyllic Indian Ocean atoll, the South Asian leaders agreed “to undertake a comprehensive review of all matters relating to SAARC’s engagement with observers, including the question of dialogue partnership, before the next session of the council of ministers in 2012″.
The decision acquires added importance as China has been pitching more a greater role in the grouping and has voiced a desire for a more interactive partnership with SAARC, with its all weather friend Pakistan batting for Beijing.
Turkey, too, has expressed its desire to join SAARC as an observer.
However, it’s not clear whether the summit has taken a call on bringing in more observers, an idea New Delhi is not happy with it as it could give external powers scope for power play in what is essentially a South Asian grouping.
Currently, there are nine observers who participate in SAARC summits in the opening and closing sessions as observers. They include the US, China, Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar and the 27-nation European Union.
The SAARC countries had decided on a moratorium on the admission of more observers at the 2008 summit in Colombo.
In their speeches in the closing session of the summit, the representatives of each SAARC country spoke eloquently about the need for deeper integration in South Asia and pitched for greater engagement within the region.
The US remains firmly committed to SAARC as an established, home grown institution which will have its best days once regional linkages in south Asia begin to blossom, said US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert O. Blake.
(Manish Chand can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: asian leaders, assistant secretary, chand, china australia, closing session, council of ministers, dialogue partners, interactive partnership, manish, moratorium, observers, power play, regional grouping, regional linkages, saarc countries, saarc summit, South Asia, south korea, summits, weather friend