After a political impasse over a new constitution caused a delay, Kathmandu is finally preparing to host the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Summit in November.
“The SAARC Summit is a major foreign policy event. Since this is also related to the country’s image and prestige, we have been working to make this event a grand success,” Dinesh Bhattarai , Koirala’s foreign relations adviser, told Khabar South Asia.
An “opportunity” for Nepal
Nepal, home to the SAARC secretariat, hosted the inaugural summit in 1985 when the bloc was established, and the third summit in November 1987.
“The SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism was adopted when Nepal hosted the third SAARC Summit in 1987,” freelance foreign affairs journalist Dhruba Hari Adhikari told Khabar.
Nepal’s hosting of the 18th summit initially was delayed due to the May 2012 dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA) .After the November legislative elections , the installation of a Koirala-led government and a second assembly cleared the way for Nepal to revive its plan to host the meeting.
“Since Nepal hosts both the SAARC Secretariat and SAARC Summit, this not only provides Nepal an opportune time to enhance its image in the international arena, but also to inject new energy in (to) the SAARC,” Shambhu Ram Simkhada, a political scientist and former Nepalese ambassador to the UN, told Khabar.
Nepal could play a role in the areas of regional security and development, Simkhada added.
Adhikari believes the upcoming summit should focus on combating the regional terror threat.
“It is an opportunity for Nepal to propose something concrete to address the menace of terrorism,” he said. “What will be the fate of Afghanistan after NATO pulls out its forces in 2015 is equally a matter of concern.
“The upcoming SAARC Summit should take up this issue, as well to ensure stability in the region.”