Afghanistan to Host SAARC Meetings

UNITED NATIONS, October 4, 2008 (PAN): Afghanistan is the latest member to join the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and is planning to host a few meetings next year.

The information was welcomed by all the SAARC members during an informal meeting of the SAARC Foreign Ministers at the UN early this week.

Afghanistan would not be immediately hosting the SAARC summit, but it will host other SAARC meetings next year. It is an indication Afghanistan is quickly integrating itself with this regional South Asian grouping.

"We are considering hosting one or two SAARC gathering during 2009. We will inform member countries on the details through diplomatic channels," Ambassador Tanin told the meeting.

"We have begun ratification of the SAARC various instrument. Our cabinet approved the SAARC Charter and the SAARC Food Bank Agreement and submitted them to the parliament for approval. The process of other SAARC documents is well under way," he said.

Urging the member countries for enhanced cooperation in the area of energy transfer, Ambassador Tanin listed two crucial projects which he termed as "win-win" situations for all the member nations. The first one is CASA 1000, which is aimed to transfer 1,300 MGW electricity energy from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The second project, he said is TAPI - the pipeline aimed to transfer natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

"I would like to take this opportunity to stress on the need of our coherent efforts and to encourage the international financial institutions such as ADB and WB to provide the needed funds for the successful implementation of these projects to promote growth and development in our region," he said.

Referring to the sharp differences between various countries in the region, Tanin said: "Today, we have to acknowledge that certain bilateral issues exist that are impeding speedy progress and slow down the implementation of our decisions."

He said: "I would like to underline the need to overcome such differences and make regional cooperation a base for mutual benefit and sincerity that will have a win-win outcome to all parties and everyone will benefit from it."