Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has inaugurated the 18th Saarc summit at City Hall in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Koirala inaugurated the summit by lighting an oil-fed lamp after receiving the chairmanship from Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.
Welcoming all the heads of state and government in his inauguration speech, Koirala stressed on the need of exploring the abundant opportunities that lies in the region. Koirala also called for making Saarc more powerful and meaningful region.
Heads of state and government of all the member countries also also addressed the summit after Koirala.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff stressed on bringing China to the Saarc region to make it more inclusive. He also called for unity among the Saarc members to fight poverty and terrorism in the region by erasing the bitter past memories.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed his happiness to be in the birth country of Gautam Buddha. Pointing terrorism as the prime challenge in the region, Rajapaksa said people with extremist view were affecting the lives of peace-loving citizens in the region. He also expressed the contry’s readiness to lend any kind of support for regional unity.
In his speech, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay called for fighting climate change, human and drugs trafficking in the border areas of the region. He also called for fighting poverty and terrorism, which he said were the other major challenges in the region.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his delight to be able to visit Nepal for the second time in such a short period of time. Modi stressed on increasing the trade and air relation among the member countries. Saying that relations between the member countries become stronger when the lives of ordinary people of countries were connected, Modi says that cynicism and skepticism were hampering the potentials of the SAARC . Reminding the horrible terror attacks in Mumbia, India in 2008, he stressed the need of mutual cooperation, investment and assistance to cope with every adversity including terrorism. He also said that the region had failed to move with the speed that the people expected & wanted.
Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina said fighting climate change was the major challenge of Bangladesh and the country had come up with National Climate Change Strategy to combat the same. She also pointed on focusing on the result-oriented programmes and called for coordination among the member countries to focus on poverty, food and nutritional security, quality education, sustainable development, empowerment of women, among others, in the days to come.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai called for making investments in Afghanistan to improve infrastructure in the country. He also stressed on the need of promoting women’s participation in the region. Ghani said that joint efforts should be put on by the member countries to harness the power resources and enrich the lives of people in the region.
Maldives President Yameen said that the regional association needs to review its priorities and goals, and the ultimate reason for which it was established. He also called for improving trade ties between member countries to alleviate poverty in the region. He also said that the region held high importance in climate change issue and pointed that economic sustainability was a challenge of the region. Yameen also thanked the Nepali government and Nepali people for making excellent arrangement during the summit.
Observers from different countries also gave speeches in the inauguration session.