The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

The South Asian Association for Regional Co-Operation, or SAARC, proposed by Ziaur Rahman, the then-president of Bangladesh, was established on December 8, 1985. SAARC is an association of 7 countries of South Asia, namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These countries comprise an area of 4 480 000 km2 and a fifth of the population of the world.

SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics control and anti-terrorism. SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and avoided more divisive political issues, above all the Kashmir dispute which bitterly divides the two largest member states, India and Pakistan. However, political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings.

In 1993, SAARC countries signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Nine years later, at the 12th SAARC summit at Islamabad, SAARC countries devised the South Asia Free Trade Agreement which will creates a framework for the creation of a free trade zone covering 1.4 billion people.

List of SAARC summits

  1. December 8, 1985 at Dhaka
  2. November 17, 1986 at Bangalore
  3. November 4, 1987 at Kathmandu
  4. December 31, 1988 at Islamabad
  5. November 23, 1990 at Male
  6. December 21, 1991 at Colombo
  7. April 11, 1993 at Dhaka
  8. May 4, 1995 at New Delhi
  9. May 14, 1997 at Male
  10. July 31, 1998 at Colombo
  11. January 6, 2002 at Kathmandu
  12. January 6, 2004 at Islamabad

Future Membership

On 22 February 2005, the Foreign Minister of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi, indicated Iran's interest in joining SAARC, saying that his country could provide the region with "East-West connectivity". [1]

The People's Republic of China has also been suggested as a possible SAARC member, such membership being encouraged by Pakistan and Bangladesh. [2] However India is more reluctant about the prospect of Chinese membership, while Bhutan does not even have diplomatic relations with China.

External links

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04