PM to lead India at video conference of SAARC nations on Sunday: MEA
Pakistan agrees to participate in conference
New Delhi/Islamabad, Mar 14 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead India at a video conference of all SAARC nations at 5 pm on Sunday to chalk out a joint strategy to fight coronavirus in the region, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
Modi on Friday proposed formulation of a joint strategy by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations to fight coronavirus, a suggestion that was backed by all the member states.
“Coming together for common good! 15 March, 1700 IST. PM Narendra Modi will lead India at the video conference of all SAARC member countries, to chalk out a strong common strategy to fight COVID-19 in the region,” MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.
Calling on the SAARC nations to set an example for the world, Modi had reached out to the eight-member regional grouping and pitched for a video conference among its leaders to chalk out a strong strategy to fight coronavirus, which has killed nearly 5,000 people globally.
His appeal got a prompt response from Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Afghan government, all of whom welcomed the proposal.
Pakistan’s response to the proposal came late in the night with the country’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui saying the threat of COVID-19 required coordinated efforts at global and regional levels.
Pakistan has said it will participate in a video conference of SAARC member countries proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 5,000 people globally.
Pakistan responded positively to Modi’s proposal, saying it was ready to participate in the conference, acknowledging that coordinated efforts were needed to minimise the threat posed by the deadly coronavirus.
“We have communicated that SAPM (Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister) on Health (Zafar Mirza) will be available to participate in the video conference of SAARC member countries on the issue,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said in a tweet on Friday.
Mirza is leading Pakistan’s campaign against the virus.
In a series of tweets, Modi said,”our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it. South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population should leave no stone unturned to ensure our people are healthy.”
“I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight Coronavirus. We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet,” he said in another tweet.
Modi’s suggestion was backed by all member states of SAARC. All the leaders of the grouping welcomed the Prime Minister’s proposal. Pakistan’s response to the proposal came late in the night.
The novel coronavirus originated in China’s Wuhan city in December last year and has killed over 5,000 people and infected more than 134,000 globally. China remains the worst-hit with 3,189 deaths and 80,824 confirmed cases of infection.
No death has been reported in Pakistan while two persons have died in India due to the disease. So far, 28 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Pakistan and there are 83 confirmed cases in India.