SAARC Foreign Ministers meet to approve XVIth summit agenda

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Thimphu (Bhutan), Apr.27 (ANI): Foreign Ministers of the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries met here on Monday to approve proposals agreed upon by their respective diplomats before adoption by their respective leaders.

Briefing media about the interaction, Bhutanese Foreign Secretary Daw Penjo said: "Whatever recommendations in terms of decisions at the secretaries levels are taken at the standing committee - we have to receive the blessings and endorsement of our ministers - only then they will be able to put it up to the summit to our leaders."

The foreign ministers also discussed and reviewed proposals on climate change, which is the main theme of the Bhutan SAARC Summit, as also ways to take regional trade cooperation forward.

Thimphu wore a festive look with colourful festoons, flags and photographs of SAARC leaders adorning roads and buildings.

Foreign Ministers of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives will be finalizing the summit agenda. The event is being held on April 28 and 29.

With Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna saying that a meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani is a possibility on the sidelines of the summit, the focus can shift from summit deliberations.

A meeting between these two leaders is being seen as crucial to western efforts to stabilise South Asia, which hasa population of 1.8 billion people.

Pakistan wants India to restart the composite dialogue process, whereas India is determined to go slow until Islamabad acts against the Mumbai terror attack planners.

Both countries have been advised by the West to ease tensions.

The eight countries are expected to sign an agreement on trade in services that will boost regional collaboration in health, hospitality, communications and computer and information services. (ANI)

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