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Friday, November 21, 2014, Agrahayan 7, 1421, Muharram 27, 1436 Hijr

Saarc Kathmandu Summit
Bangladesh to focus on connectivity, terrorism
Diplomatic Correspondent
Publish Date : 2014-11-21,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 15
Bangladesh along with seven other nations will meet Wednesday in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu at the next Saarc Summit with a call to implement the resolutions of the earlier summits  of the seven-nation forum.
Dhaka attaches importance to a number of issues, including connectivity, poverty alleviation, youth development and fighting terrorism, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali on Thursday told a press briefing, on the eve of the top level meeting   of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation on November 26-27.
The 18th summit is taking place after an interval of three years in Kathmandu. The last summit was held in the Maldives in 2011.
During the press briefing at the Foreign Office, the Foreign Minister could not confirm whether Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would be meeting other heads of state and government of the Saarc nations on the sidelines of the summit.
However, the Foreign Office is on a frantic effort to  prepare series of meetings with the top leaders of Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, except with Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Bangladesh's diplomatic relationship with Pakistan is all time low, a senior diplomat of the Foreign Office said. The bilateral relations plummeted after Pakistan condemned Bangladesh's move to put the 1971 war criminals on trial.
Bangladesh has officially summoned the Pakistani High Commissioner in Dhaka to lodge protest after a senior cabinet minister of that country criticised the International Crimes Tribunal's  death penalty judgement of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Matiur Rahman Nizami for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.
It is expected that Sheikh Hasina's meeting with Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, would be held for the second time after Bangladesh's premier met him on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly in September.
In response to a query on whether Bangladesh would raise unresolved issues during the Modi-Hasina meet in Kathmandu, the minister said the agenda has not been finalised.
He hastened to add that Bangladesh has already held crucial meeting in New Delhi days before the Modi-Hasina meet which yielded positive result and the journey with the new Indian government has just begun.
This time at least three protocols and agreements are expected to be signed at the Saarc Summit, such as Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic among the member-states, Regional Railways Agreement and Saarc Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation, Mahmood Ali further told journalists.
Saarc was formed in 1985 with seven member states--Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In 2007, Afghanistan became its eighth member state.
The relations went to a new height when heads of state and government of Saarc nations attended the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi in Delhi on May 26, 2014, which was dubbed as a mini Saarc Summit by the media. The Saarc leaders agreed to revitalise the Saarc initiative and a summit in Nepal.
Majority of the 1.47 billion population in South Asian countries are still poor and struggling to meet their basic needs.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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