Bangladesh calls for exploiting SAARC cooperation to combat post COVID-19 challenges

Diplomatic Correspondent

25th September, 2020 10:35:41 printer

Bangladesh calls for exploiting SAARC cooperation to combat post COVID-19 challenges

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has called upon the Foreign Ministers of the SAARC Member States to work together to strengthen regional cooperation leveraging the SAARC mechanism to fight against the challenges posed by COVID-19.

He made the call during the 17th Informal Meeting of Council of Ministers (COM), virtually held on Thursday as a sideline event of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, said the Foreign Ministry on Friday.

In his address, the Foreign Minister conveyed the dream of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to work together with the neighbors in South Asia for the collective benefits of the people.

He reiterated the proposal made by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the video conference of the SAARC leaders held in March this year to establish a SAARC Public Health Research Institute in Dhaka to study and find out solutions to COVID-19 as well as future similar public health threats with the support of all member states of SAARC.

On the occasion of the celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman this year, he reaffirmed Bangladesh’s strong commitment to strengthen SAARC Forum as a common platform in South Asia for effective regional cooperation.

Chaired by Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, the SAARC Council of Ministers was attended by the Foreign Ministers of all the eight SAARC Member States.

During this year’s Conference, the Foreign Ministers of SAARC Member States reviewed the regional efforts in combating COVID-19 pandemic and put emphasis on further strengthening regional cooperation in the wake of the Pandemic.

With a view to revitalizing SAARC, the Foreign Minister underscored the need for revisiting the entire plan of action of SAARC system for its effective implementation.

He added that COVID-19 would unfold many new opportunities with new areas of cooperation while many existing sectors might either disappear partially or totally or lose relevance as before.

He was of the view that sectors like food and agriculture, public health, ICT, trade and investment are likely to require more focus during the post COVID-19 period.

The Foreign Minister also called upon his colleagues to consider convening of some functional meetings like the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries to regularize many pending recommendations by other lower functional bodies of SAARC and work out ways and means to make SAARC more effective during the post COVID-19 recovery efforts by the member states.