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Friday, November 28, 2014, Agrahayan 14, 1421, Safar 4, 1436 Hijr

SAARC Summit Concludes
Energy cooperation accord signed
Anaet Shawon from Kathmandu
Publish Date : 2014-11-28,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 16
KATHMANDU, Nov 27: The historic 18th SAARC Summit has concluded on Thursday evening at the Nepalese capital with all participating leaders agreeing to a 36-point Kathmandu Declaration Letter.
The Kathmandu Declaration Letter was announced at the concluding ceremony attended by the heads of state and government of the SAARC member countries.
The leaders of eight nations had earlier taken part in a retreat at the Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel in Kavre District, which is about 20 kilometres from Kathmandu.
At the retreat, among the agenda of discussion there has been no proposal on the expansion of SAARC membership.
Prime Ministers Modi and Nawaz Sharif shook hands at the closing moments of the SAARC conclusion ceremony on the podium at City Hall and earlier at the picturesque resort  at Dhulikhel, which officials believe has saved the Summit.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended the closing session with other heads of state or government of the member countries.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutanese PM Tshering Tobgay, Indian PM Narendra Modi, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala witnessed the signing at the City Hall.
On the last day of the Summit, the leaders flew to a mountain resort near Kathmandu and agreed on energy SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity) where electricity will be shared among the members through a common grid, which aimed at addressing the increasing demand for power in the region.
The agreements were signed in the presence of Heads of state or government of the SAARC countries.
SAARC Foreign Ministers signed the agreements at the Summit's concluding session after Prime Minister and Chairperson of the SAARC Sushil Koirala appealed to the ministers to sign the agreements.
Dunya Moumoon, Foreign Minister of of Maldives, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Foreign Minister of Nepal, Zarar Ahmad Osmani, Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India, Lyanpo Rinzin Dorje, Foreign Minister of Bhutan, Gamani Lakshman Peiris, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka and Sartaz Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan signed the agreements on behalf of their respective countries.
The agreements will enable greater cooperation in the power sector among South Asian countries. It is expected to improve power availability in the entire region and would facilitate integrated operation of the regional power grid.
However the Foreign Minister failed to reach consensus on signing two other instruments. SAARC Agreement on Motor Vehicles and SAARC Agreement on Railway Service could not be signed as Pakistan refused with an excuse that the strife-torn country is not prepared for implementation of the agreement, argued Pakistan FM Sartaz Aziz.
The Summit was also losing hope that the energy cooperation agreement would be ditched, but Koirala frantic lobbying salvaged it and tabled the agreement for signing by all parties.
Nepali Prime Minister said communication ministers of the SAARC member countries will finalise the issue by the next three months.
"The agreement will pave the way to share energy from one member country to another," Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala told reporters after the concluding session.
"We have successfully held the Summit," Koirala said during his closing speech at the ceremony.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Sushil Koirala announced that the 19th SAARC Summit would be held in Islamabad in 2016.
Before this, Pakistan has already hosted the Fourth Summit from December 29 to December 31 in1998 and the 12th Summit from January 4 to January 6 in 2004.
Chairman of SAARC and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala formally announced the end of the regional summit.
In his vote of thanks at the closing ceremony, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thanked the heads of state and government for providing the opportunity to his country to host the next Summit.
Most of visiting dignitaries of the SAARC member nations have returned home after attending dinner banquet hosted by Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav at his official residence in Kathmandu.
Sheikh Hasina and Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay will be returning to their respective countries today (Friday).

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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