Saarc Development Fund may make headway

Saarc Development Fund may make headway

New Delhi: Creation of the ambitious Saarc Development Fund (SDF) may see some progress at the upcoming meet of the regional body, which will also seek to push efforts on boosting intra-region connectivity.

The two-day Saarc Foreign Ministers’ meet, beginning on 7 December, will also review progress on various other proposals, including setting up of tele-medicine network, a Saarc University and a Saarc Food Bank.

It will try to work out on the agreed text of the Saarc Development Fund. An agreement on the fund could not be reached at the summit apparently because of differences as to which country will contribute how much.

Connectivity will be the main theme of the inter-summit meeting, said Shiv Shankar Menon, foreign secretary, while briefing on the upcoming event.

With the last Saarc Summit in Delhi deciding on connecting capitals of all the eight member-countries, the Saarc Council of Ministers will discuss its implementation. The inter-linking proposals include launch of direct air service between Delhi and Islamabad.

The foreign secretary informed that the two countries have agreed in-principle to have direct flights between Delhi and Islamabad but the airlines, Indian Airlines and Pakistan International Airlines, have expressed inability to do so citing lack of aircrafts as the reason.

“India has proposed that private airlines be allowed to operate the flights," he said.