Weerakoon approved as SAARC Secretary-General | Daily News

Weerakoon approved as SAARC Secretary-General

The informal meeting of the Council of Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held in New York last week has approved the nomination of former foreign secretary and senior career diplomat Esala Weerakoon as the SAARC 14th Secretary General from March 1, 2020. Weerakoon now serves as the Senior Additional Secretary to the President.

The meeting was chaired by Nepal Pradeep Foreign Minister Kumar Gyawali and attended by Afghanistan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Bhutan Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji, India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Bangladesh Foreign Affairs State Minister Shahriar Alam, and the Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary.

Addressing the meeting held on September 26 on the sidelines of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha welcomed the approval of the next SAARC Secretary General. He said Sri Lanka looks forward to contributing towards further strengthening SAARC.

The SAARC Foreign Affairs Ministers reviewed the progress made in the past year and emphasised the importance of regional cooperation for enhancing trade, investment, connectivity, tourism, culture, security, peace and stability.

The Foreign Secretary appreciated the Chair, Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, for convening the meeting and the Secretary General Amjad Hussain B. Sial for outlining the progress made and challenges before the Association. He thanked Sial for promoting the interests of the region during his term as Secretary General.

The Foreign Secretary reiterated Sri Lanka’s commitment to regional cooperation. He said engagement with SAARC remains a high priority in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. He said greater regional cooperation in enhancing connectivity, safety and security was paramount to sustainable growth and economic, social and cultural development in the region.

Foreign Secretary Aryasinha said South Asia has been disproportionately affected by the terrorism in recent years. He said member countries should strive to address the transnational threat of terrorism collectively through exchanging information between the law enforcement agencies and dialogue.

Sri Lanka reiterated its commitment to the SAARC Agenda for culture, by promoting people to people contact and regional unity through arts. The new state of the art complex for the SAARC Cultural Center is constructed in Matara, Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka has so far provided US$ 10.5 million for the construction. The SAARC Cultural Centre organises numerous activities with the member states to promote and protect the rich cultural heritage of South Asia strengthening the ties among the member states.


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