The 49th Session of the SAARC Programming Committee started in Kathmandu on Saturday, November 22, 2014, marking the opening of the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit process.
The Programming Committee meetings are led by Joint-secretaries and equivalent officers from foreign or external affairs ministries of the eight full member-countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Aishath Liusha Zahir, who leads the Maldives delegation, inaugurated the meeting as the chair of the Programming Committee. Session then elected Yagya Bahadur Hamal, the Joint-secretary at Nepal’s foreign ministry and the leader of the Nepali delegation to the committee as the new chair of the committee.
According to SAARC practice, the meeting is opened by the chair of the previous SAARC Summit host and then elects the leader of the new host’s delegation as the new chair.
According to the foreign ministry, the session is considering a number of matters, including a phasing-out plan related to selective closure and merger of SAARC Regional Centres, the establishment of the SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre, SAARC calendar of activities for 2015, and the status of implementation of the committee’s earlier recommendations, among others.
The Programming Committee will submit its report to the SAARC Standing Committee, which will hold its 41st session on November 23 and November 24 in Kathmandu.
Foreign Secretaries or their equivalent bureaucrats from SAARC full member-states are scheduled to all have arrived in Kathmandu by Saturday evening to attend the SAARC Standing Committee meetings, according to the foreign ministry.
The standing committee will prepare the agenda for the 18th SAARC Summit and present it to the 36th Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers in Kathmandu on November 25.