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SAARC to engage observer nations in productive projects

PTI 27 Nov 2014, 20:51:00 PM IST

Kathmandu: Increasing the engagement with observer countries like China, the eight-member SAARC bloc today decided to involve them in “productive and demand-driven” projects in priority areas.

This comes in the backdrop of China pushing for an “elevated” role in the grouping.

China, a observer in the grouping, has been pushing for getting a permanent membership of SAARC.

However, India's position has been that SAARC should enhance cooperation among the existing members before considering its expansion.

When asked if India has received a formal request from any SAARC country for China's membership, India's External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said “there is no proposal for expansion of SAARC.”

According to the declaration, adopted at the end of 18th SAARC Summit, “the SAARC leaders directed the Programming Committee to engage the SAARC observers into productive, demand-driven and objective project based cooperation in priority areas as identified by the member states.”

The summit also welcomed the participation of observers from Australia, China, Iran, Japan, Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar, the US and the European Union at the 18th session.