Australia, Myanmar as SAARC observers: Sri Lanka official

July 30, 2008 (LBO) – Australia and Myanmar would be admitted as observers of the South Asian Association of Regional Corporation (SAARC) at this year’s sessions, now underway in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, an official said. Sri Lanka’s additional foreign secretary Prasad Kariawasam told reporters after a meeting of the so-called ‘standing committee’ of foreign secretaries of the eight SAARC member states, that the two nations would join seven other observers.

The standing committee that is also meeting tomorrow will hammer out a ‘Colombo declaration’ on food security and other accords to be signed and deliberated by the region’s leaders at a summit meeting later in the week.

Climate change, combating terrorism, establishing common standards for goods and what politicians in the region call ‘the energy crisis’ will be dealt with at this year’s summit meeting to be held over the weekend.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka make up the regional grouping, with South Asia becoming one of the fastest growing regions in the world due to economic reforms India has undertaken since 1991.

Afghanistan was admitted as a full member by the founding seven nations in 2007.