India's Sheel Kant Sharma to be next SAARC Sec Gen

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New Delhi, Dec 7 (UNI) India's envoy to Austria, Sheel Kant Sharma, will be next Secretary General of SAARC, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced here today.

This was decided at the 29th Session of the SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers here.

''The Council of Ministers approved the appointment of the new SAARC Secretary General who will be Dr Sheel Kant Sharma from India,'' the External Affairs Minister said at a press conference after the 29th Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers here.

The Minister also said the next SAARC Summit in 2008 would be held in Sri Lanka which had offered to host the Summit to coincide with the 60th anniversary of its Independence. Maldives, which was to host the 2008 Summit, would now host it in 2009 ''owing to domestic pre-occupations in 2008,'' the Minister said.

Mr Mukherjee said the Council of Ministers deeply appreciated the contribution of the present SAARC Secretary General, Chenkyab Dorji, and the excellent work done by him during his tenure.

Mr Sharma, who is also India's envoy at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will be the second Indian after Mr Kamalesh Sharma, High Commissioner in London, to head an international grouping.

Mr Kamalesh Sharma was elected Secretary General of the 53-nation Commonwealth in an election held in Kampala (Uganda) on November 23 during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM).


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