Kathmandu, Nov 26: The 18th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) is set to begin here on Wednesday. [Saarc: India calls for collective response to terrorism]
Heads of state or government from eight member countries besides repesentatives from nine observer states will attend the two-day event.
Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala will inaugurate the programme at the City Hall. Maldives will hand over the Saarc's chairmanship to Nepal and PM Koirala will assume role of the new chair of the regional organisation. [Look Around Policy is key for Saarc's future]
The Saarc has met only 18 times since 1985 when it was established
The eight member nations of the Saarc include, besides Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Heads of state or government of all the member states will address the opening session.
The observers include the US, China, Australia, South Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar, Iran, Japan and the European Union.
The eight leaders will meet privately during a retreat on Thursday. The concluding session will also be held at the City Hall on Thursday when the Kathmandu Declaration will be issued and some regional pacts signed.
The Summit is also scheduled to consider reports of the meeting of the body's council of ministers that concluded on Tuesday and those of other ministerial talks held earlier.
The 18th Saarc Summit, themed "Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity", is likely to seal three regional deals, namely, agreement on motor vehicles, agreement on railway service and framework agreement on energy cooperation.
Under the motor vehicles agreement, vehicles will be able to ply on the roads of member states on a reciprocal basis while the railway agreement will open for railway connectivity in the region.
The energy cooperation agreement looks at trading power between the member countries and setting up trans-boundary power grids.