SAARC Countries Set To Sign Motor Vehicle, Railway Pacts

Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan have finalised the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement and Railway pact and are set to sign it during the upcoming ministerial meeting to be held here in June. The agreement seeking to facilitate better connectivity in South Asia is likely to be signed during the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) ministerial meeting scheduled from June 22 to June 24, said Tara Pokhrel, spokesman at the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Transport ministers of the eight SAARC countries are meeting here to give the two accords a final shape. Nepal is the current chair of the SAARC.

The 18th SAARC summit, which was held in Kathmandu in November last year themed 'Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity, had emphasised better connectivity in the region by roads, railways and airways.

"We expect signing of the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement so that connectivity in the SAARC region can be enhanced further," said Pokhrel.

The two agreements had been scheduled to be signed during the SAARC Summit last year but were postponed as Pakistan wanted more time to complete its internal procedures.

The agreement will facilitate inter-country railways and roadways connectivity in South Asia and help easy movement of the people in the region. Currently, SAARC countries have only air connectivity.

SAARC was established in 1985 in line with ASEAN to promote regional cooperation in South Asia. Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan are its members, while Myanmar, China, South Korea, Australia, Japan, Iran, US, Mauritius and European Union are SAARC observers.

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