KATHMANDU, Nepal: The prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Wednesday that Pakistan wants to see China as a permanent member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
China is already associated with the SAARC as an observer along with eight other countries including Australia, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.
The Indian media citing senior government sources reported on Tuesday that at the SAARC ministerial meeting held on November 25, Pakistan demanded a greater role for China as an observer in the grouping.
The Indian government sources said that the issue of full membership for China did not come up because it was not on the agenda.
“There was a suggestion of strengthening of role of observers. There was no further debate and no discussion. Nothing in Kathmandu declaration on this because there was no great support for this move,” the Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin was quoted as saying by NDTV.
In his address at a news conference in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan also supports to give observer status to Turkey.
The 18th SAARC Summit is currently being held in Kathmandu under the theme “Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity”.
The leaders of the eight-member alliance comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are attending the two-day summit.
The adviser said that the SAARC leaders have reiterated their commitment to move forward in different fields.
Sartaj Aziz said that an agreement on energy cooperation among the SAARC countries is likely to be signed on Thursday, and accords for links through railway and roads would also be finalized shortly.
The premier’s adviser told that the 19th SAARC Summit will be held in Pakistan.
Moreover, he told that the presidents of Sri Lanka and Maldives will visit Pakistan early next year.