Saturday, May 1, 2010

THIMPHU, April 28 (Xinhua) -- The 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit kicked off on Wednesday afternoon in Bhutanese capital Thimphu.

As an outgoing SAARC Chairman, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressed the summit with the theme: "Towards a green and happy South Asia".

Rajapaksa said that Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley has been elected as the Chair of 16th SAARC.

Similarly, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh officially inaugurated the summit.
Addressing the opening session of summit, Singh highlighted the efforts taken by Bhutan to mitigate and adapt the adverse impact of climate change and said that the summit will focus on climate change.
He added that the summit coinciding the 25th Silver Jubliee should find common ground to protect natural resources with regional cooperation on environment. "This requires much attention in future in disaster management. We need to learn from one another," said Singh.

Highlighting the achievements made by the SAARC so far, Singh mentioned the establishment of SAARC Food Bank, SAARC Development Fund and signing of various agenda including South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), and establishment of SAARC University in Delhi.

Leaders from eight SAARC member states and observers from nine other countries are presented at the Grand Assembly Hall in SAARC Village.
Some 400 delegates from member states, 60 delegates from observer countries and more than 300 journalists are attending the 16th SAARC summit.
The SAARC, the most important regional alliance, was established when its Charter was adopted on December 8, 1985. It groups nine member states -- Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Similarly, China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Iran, Mauritius, Australia, Myanmar and the European Union attended the SAARC Summit as observers.
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