Bangladesh media reports SAARC summit uncertainty following regional unrest

Political unrest in the Maldives and Nepal during 2012 has set back preparations for the 18th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bangladesh-based media has reported today.

According to The Daily Star newspaper, the next summit meeting for the heads of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Maldives had been scheduled to be held in Kathmandu during May 2013.

However, the chances of meeting such a date are now alleged to be unlikely over reports that no preparatory work has been undertaken by Nepalese authorities.

Citing unnamed “diplomatic sources”, the Daily Star has claimed that the postponement of an inter-summit session of the organisation’s council of ministers by the Maldives – in its position of current SAARC Chair – had further set back Nepal’s own preparations.

“The Maldives, the current SAARC Chair, is also in serious political crisis following the alleged ouster of Mohamed Nasheed as president of the country in February last,” wrote the newspaper.

The inter-summit session is reported to have been required under the SAARC Charter to be held six months after the organisation’s previous summit in order to finalise the dates, venue, and agenda of its next meeting.

Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla and President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

The previous SAARC summit meeting was held back in Addu Atoll in November 2010.

During the summit, former President Mohamed Nasheed identified several key issues to be addressed including trade, transport, economic investment, security against piracy, climate change and good governance.