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Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's inaugural address to the 23rd Session of SAARC Council of Ministers, Kathmandu, 21 August 2002

Member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) agreed at the 23rd Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers to initiate legislative measures in their respective countries to fight terrorism. Deuba reminded the distinguished audience that, at the 11th SAARC Summit, member countries had affirmed the determination to redouble efforts, both collectively and individually, to prevent and suppress terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He added, he hopes that member countries would work towards enhancing the effectiveness of cooperation in line with the changing demands of the day

Excellencies the Foreign Ministers of SAARC

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to extend the heartiest welcome to you all in Kathmandu. It is an honour for Nepal to host this SAARC Council of Ministers meeting. I hope the spirit and momentum of cooperation that was generated in the Eleventh SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in January this year will continue to guide the deliberations of the SAARC Council of Ministers in the next two days. I believe this inter-summit session of the Council will be instrumental in reviewing the progress in implementation of the Summit decisions and in following up the actions mandated by the Summit. As the current Chairperson of the SAARC, I would like to express my satisfaction over the progress we have made in the implementation of most of the decisions of the Eleventh Summit. I am pleased to note that a fresh dynamism has been injected in the various activities of the SAARC since the last summit.

Terrorism has been the latest menace to the region and the world at large. Its resurgence in new forms and viciousness in the region and beyond is indeed a matter of great concern to all of us. During the Kathmandu Summit, we had affirmed the determination to redouble our efforts collectively and individually to prevent and suppress terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Council of Ministers may deliberate on the mechanism of strengthening the implementation of the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and enhance the effectiveness of cooperation in line with the changing demands of the day. I believe that the SAARC Police Officers Meeting to be held in Kathmandu later this month will deliberate on some aspects of regional cooperation in the suppression of terrorism.

SAARC has given us new awareness and helped project our regional identity. Moreover, it has brought together the community of the largest number of people in the world within a cooperative framework… our challenge today is how to consolidate the positive gains that we have made so far and make progress in those areas where we lag behind. It was with this in mind that during the Eleventh SAARC Summit, we solemnly reaffirmed our commitment to strengthen the association and make it more cohesive, result-oriented and forward-looking. As per the directives of the Summit, Nepal has prepared concept papers including one on rationalization and consolidation of the SAARC process. I hope the Council of Ministers will have a fruitful deliberation on this and other related issues. Among other things, there is a need to strengthen the implementation and institutional capability and to focus our activities on core areas of cooperation.

Enhancement of competitiveness and the promotion of complementarity in the region are our primary goals. They reinforce our economic strength against the adverse effects of globalization. Globalization places a great demand on all of us to be bold enough to look beyond the present. Time and tide can hardly wait for any one. Therefore, we should concentrate ourselves on doable programs and on their effective implementation so that the results become tangible and meaningful. We have reasons to be happy that we have been able to create a regional space for all of us through this association. Now we must make rapid progress to remain relevant and vibrant. Working together, we are confident that we will reach our common destination

I believe an enhanced level of cooperation within the framework of SAARC and shared feelings and understanding would ensure peace and prosperity in the region and help realize its vast potential. I have always felt the enormous enthusiasm in South Asia at the public level to take the regional cooperation process forward. I would like to appreciate the complementary role played by the business community and the civil society in expanding the areas of regional interactions.

I wish you all success.

Thank you.







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