ISLAMABAD: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretary General Ahmed Saleem visited Pakistan and held useful meetings with Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi.
During his two-day stay in the federal capital, the SAARC secretary general also attended a lunch hosted by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
It was also attended by all SAARC envoys accredited to Pakistan, several Federal Secretaries and Directors of SAARC Regional Centres in Islamabad.
In his meeting with the SAARC secretary general, the adviser reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter for the welfare of the people of this region, economic integration and regional prosperity.
Commenting on the importance of regional integration and the role of SAARC, the adviser felt that due to several impediments and challenges SAARC has been unable to fulfil the vision that was laid out for it by its founding members.
He believed that the SAARC Secretariat could play an important role as catalyst to bring all the member states together and ensure timely and effective implementation of programme and activities that would benefit the region.
Agreeing with the adviser, SAARC secretary general emphasised the need to overcome the difficulties that the organisation faced and in this regard he stated that an exercise had been carried out by the secretariat to rationalise and improving the structure and working of SAARC that would be discussed by the member states at the Inter-Summit Council of ministers meeting scheduled for February 17-20 in Male.
He also commented on the useful role that Observer States play within SAARC particularly with regard to funding of its activities.
He added that SAARC should take a lead from other regional organisations such as ASEAN, ECO, GCC and the EU and emulate their methods in a variety of fields.
The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi appreciated Ahmed Saleem's untiring efforts in contributing to the cumulative improvements in SAARC mechanism and reiterated Pakistan's commitment to the SAARC process.
Saleem who hails from the Republic of the Maldives, is the 11th SAARC secretary general.
He will complete his tenure on February 28, 2014 after which Foreign Secretary of Nepal Arjun Bahadur Thapa will take charge as SAARC Secretary General.
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