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Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid a visit to Pakistan on January 7-8 2014. During his stay he paid farewell courtesy call on Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi. Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry hosted a lunch for the out-going Secretary General which was attended by all SAARC envoys accredited to Pakistan, several Federal Secretaries and Directors of SAARC Regional Centres in Islamabad.

2. In his meeting with the SAARC Secretary General, the Advisor 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 Advisor felt that due to several impediments and challenges SAARC has been unable to fulfill 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.

3. Agreeing with the Advisor, Secretary General SAARC emphasized the need to overcome the difficulties that the organization faced and in this regard he stated that an exercise had been carried out by the Secretariat to rationalize 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 17-20 February 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 organizations such as ASEAN, ECO, GCC and the EU and emulate their methods in a variety of fields.

4. The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Mr. Tariq Fatemi appreciated Mr. Ahmed Saleem’s untiring efforts in contributing to the cumulative improvements in SAARC mechanism and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the SAARC process. Mr. Ahmed Saleem who hails from the Republic of the Maldives, is the 11th SAARC Secretary General. He completes his tenure on 28 February 2014 after which Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Foreign Secretary of Nepal will take charge as SAARC Secretary General.

January 8, 2014

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