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Pakistan offers to host Saarc health ministers conference

March 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday said Pakistan considered Saarc an important platform for regional cooperation and reiterated Pakistan s offer to host the Saarc Health Ministers Conference to enhance cooperation among member countries and development partners in health sector, with special focus on COVID-19. The Foreign Minister stated this in his telephonic conversation with his Bhutanese counterpart Dr Tandi Dorji.

They discussed the challenges faced by the region and the ways to counter them in the wake of rapid spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foreign Minister proposed that a video conference may be organized in view of the prevailing global health emergency.

Foreign Minister Dorji welcomed the proposal and expressed Bhutan s readiness to participate.

Discussing the Saarc COVID-19 Emergency Fund, it was underlined that the Fund should be placed under the Secretary General Saarc and the modalities for its use, be finalized through consultations.

Dilating upon the economic impact of COVID-19 on the developing countries, Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored the need for debt restructuring of the developing countries to enable them to divert resources towards saving lives.

He shared that the President World Bank and Managing Director IMF have also raised this issue and in this regard the UN Secretary General has also emphasized the need for out of box solutions.

Appreciating Pakistan s efforts, Foreign Minister Dorji underscored that given the unprecedented economic challenges faced by the developing countries due to the pandemic, a serious consideration of the proposed restructuring was critical.

The two Foreign Ministers reaffirmed the need for joint efforts to deal with the current situation and agreed to stay closely engaged in the matter.