SAARC nations sign energy deal, salvage summit

SAARC nations sign energy deal, salvage summit

SAARC nations sign energy deal, salvage summit

SAARC countries today managed to salvage their summit by agreeing to a last-minute deal to trade electricity among them after Pakistan torpedoed proposals for greater regional connectivity which India and other countries of the bloc were pushing for.

Before the SAARC summit concluded here, Foreign Ministers of all the eight countries signed the framework agreement on cooperation in power sector which will ensure electricity trading through grid connectivity but the two pacts on motor vehicle and railways could not be inked following resistance by Pakistan.

Pakistan had opposed the energy pact citing non- completion of internal process but finally agreed to sign it after heads of states and governments took up the matter with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a retreat session in a resort in Dhulikhel, a tourist paradise near the Nepalese capital.

SAARC chair and Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala announced at the concluding session that three months time has been fixed for according approval to the connectivity pacts which will encourage people-to-people contact and movement of goods.

At the end of the two-day SAARC summit, which took place after a gap of three years, a 'Kathmandu Declaration' was adopted which said the leaders recognised that after nearly 30 years of its existence, it was time to "reinvigorate" SAARC's regional cooperation and  "revitalise" the bloc as an effective vehicle to fulfill the developmental aspirations of the people.

Describing the summit as "successful", India's External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said there were some "difficulties" yesterday which were resolved in a "graduated" manner.

He said the Indian side returns "satisfied" with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "first successful SAARC Summit".

The declaration said the leaders unequivocally condemned terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations and underlined the need for effective cooperation among the member states to combat them.

"They (SAARC leaders) directed respective authorities to ensure full and effective implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism," the declaration said.

Thanking the leaders for giving the opportunity to host the next SAARC Summit in Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, "The 18th SAARC summit has reaffirmed our resolve to create an inclusive, just, equitable partnership of peace, development and prosperity under the platform of SAARC."

"We must adopt a realistic, pragmatic and step-by-step approach towards solution of issues which will open up new channel of cooperation," he said.
The SAARC member countries are India, the Maldives,  Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan.