Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma will attend the 17th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which takes place in Addu City, Maldives, from 10 to 11 November 2011.
It marks the first time a Commonwealth Secretary-General has been invited to observe the annual meeting of eight countries of which five share Commonwealth membership. These are Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Mr Sharma said: “The summit theme ‘Building Bridges’ is about linkages and partnerships. The Commonwealth recognises the mutual benefits of closer collaboration with regional organisations such as SAARC, which represents five of our member countries and is working on shared areas of engagement: democracy, development and diversity.”
The summit takes place less than a fortnight after the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia, at which the challenges of climate change, food security, economic stability, governance, democracy and human rights were discussed.
SAARC members are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.