US, EU, China, Japan to send observers to SAARC summit in India

NEW DELHI, India, March 22, 2007 (AFP) – World powers including the United States, the European Union and China will send representatives for the first time to a South Asian summit, the Indian foreign ministry said on Thursday. The summit next week will focus on enhancing economic cooperation among members, she said.
Bangladesh played host to the 13th summit in Dhaka in November 2005. Japan and South Korea will also send “observers” to the 14th meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to be held in New Delhi on April 3-4, said a senior official, who wished to remain unnamed.

The New Delhi summit, to be attended by the heads of government of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, will formally welcome Afghanistan as its eighth member, she said.

South Korea, the United States and the European Union were given SAARC “observer” status at a meeting of senior officials in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in August.
China and Japan were also nominated as observers last year.

Formed in 1985, SAARC “aims to accelerate the process of economic and social development in member states,” according to a statement on the group’s website.

But two decades on, SAAR