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Momen for strengthening SAARC cooperation tackling COVID challenges

25 September 2020, 3:57:10

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has called upon his all counterparts of SAARC member states to work together in strengthening regional cooperation to fight the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.

He made the call during the 17th Informal Meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers (COM), virtually held on Thursday as a sideline event of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, a foreign ministry press release said here today.

Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali chaired the COM attended by the foreign ministers of all the eight SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Member States.

In his address, Bangladesh foreign minister underscored the need for revisiting the entire plan of action of SAARC system for its effective implementation.

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 added.

Dr Momen called upon his colleagues to consider convening of meeting of foreign secretaries to regularize many pending recommendations by other lower functional bodies of SAARC and work out ways to make the South Asian forum more effective during the post COVID-19 recovery efforts by the member states.

He conveyed dream of the Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to work together with the neighbors in South Asia for the collective benefits of the people.

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

Dr Momen reiterated the proposal made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the video conference of the south Asian leaders held in March last to establish a SAARC Public Health Research Institute in Dhaka for finding out solutions to COVID-19 as well as future similar public health threats. He also said 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 ministers of other SAARC countries also reviewed the regional efforts in combating COVID-19 and put emphasis on further strengthening regional cooperation in the wake of the Pandemic.

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