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Neo
30 Mar 06,, 19:28
US seeks to join south Asia grouping

DHAKA - 30 March 2006 -The United States wants to join the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as an observer, Bangladesh Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan said on Thursday.


The request was formally made by the visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Gastright who arrived Dhaka on Thursday on a two-day visit.

“We support the US request to become an observer of SAARC and hope all other members of the forum also welcome it,” Khan told reporters after a meeting with Gastright.

Earlier South Korea also made a similar request for SAARC observer status, foreign ministry officials said.

SAARC was formed in 1985, but its aim of bringing regional prosperity through cooperation has failed to get off the ground.

It has taken few multilateral initiatives and many of its summits have been postponed, sometimes for years, because of strife within nations or between them.

Bangladesh, the current chair of the grouping, will host a meeting of the SAARC Standing Committee, made up of the foreign secretaries of the member states, to finalise the terms and conditions for the observers, the officials said.

Gastright also discussed bilateral issues including cooperation in combating terrorism and asked Bangladesh “to do more” in curbing domestic extremism, they said.

Bangladesh has been rocked by a series of bomb attacks since August last year -- which killed at least 30 people and wounded 150 -- that are blamed on Islamist militants fighting for introduction of sharia law in the mainly Muslim democracy.

SAARC groups Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

During the 13th SAARC summit in Dhaka in November last year, the new membership was granted to Afghanistan and observer status to China and Japan.

Afghanistan would be formally integrated to the grouping later this year, officials said.

Neo
30 Mar 06,, 19:31
I don't see why the US should be granted an observer status.
SAARC is a regional thing! :cool:

Srirangan
30 Mar 06,, 19:48
Uncle trying SEATO again. I wonder if it can work, especially with Pkaistan, Bangladesh and Nepal in the Chicom embrace. Too late uncle.

Karthik
31 Mar 06,, 03:03
SAARC is largely dysfunctional anyway. There'll be no hotdogs here for uncle Sam !

Neo
31 Mar 06,, 11:10
SAARC is largely dysfunctional anyway. There'll be no hotdogs here for uncle Sam !
Disfunctional at present maybe, but it could become a potential powerblock in (near) future.

Karthik
31 Mar 06,, 16:18
Disfunctional at present maybe, but it could become a potential powerblock in (near) future.

I'm not as optimistic as you are on that Neo. :)

Neo
31 Mar 06,, 18:11
I'm not as optimistic as you are on that Neo. :)

I can understand that.
But you've got to have perspective bro. Picture SAARC in 10 or 20 years from now.
:)

Vaman
31 Mar 06,, 19:55
Disfunctional at present maybe, but it could become a potential powerblock in (near) future.
hehe.. thats utterly funny. The only reason SAARC has semblence of any standing is because of India.
Lets face it SAARC is India. Without India theres absolutely nothing there.

Neo
31 Mar 06,, 20:04
hehe.. thats utterly funny. The only reason SAARC has semblence of any standing is because of India.
Lets face it SAARC is India. Without India theres absolutely nothing there.

Thats blind patriotism talking dude.
But whatever, I respect your opinion.

Vaman
31 Mar 06,, 20:13
That is a fact sonny boy. Patriotism has nothing to do with it.
Just imagine what would be talked about at Saarc if India werent in attendance.
Pakistan couldnt very well pass time talking about its burning central core issue.
Bangladesh and Nepal would have nothing to talk about in terms of trade and development issues ( a large chunk of their exports, imports and investments are with India).
and so on...

IN any case I dont care for India's membership in Saarc anyway. The term dysfunctional someone else used is absolutely correct. It just another one of those worthless forums where hardly anything constructive gets done. I prefer India choose a bilateral mode of engagement with some of the neighboring countries. Its a more effiecient way of doing things. Personally I think we have done a great deal wth countries like SriLanka in that fashion.

Srirangan
01 Apr 06,, 04:54
SAARC be successful? Impossible. Especially when 3 countries have whored themselves to a strong contender of South Asia. Gee, great prospects!

Ray
01 Apr 06,, 10:05
If China can be an observer, I wonder why not the US?

China has that much of interest as that US has.

China has trade and security interest in the South Asian countries and so has the US.

US technology is esential to "fire" South Asian industries and if the US is an observer, it will have a better understanding of the South Asian needs.

HistoricalDavid
01 Apr 06,, 13:57
Thats blind patriotism talking dude.
But whatever, I respect your opinion.


I don't see why the US should be granted an observer status.
SAARC is a regional thing! :cool:

And that is blind regionalism. Frankly in your mind I have very strong feeling it's more to do with the fact that it's the United States, rather than a non-South-Asian country, wishing to join as observer.

But I could just be guessing.

Neo
01 Apr 06,, 15:11
If China can be an observer, I wonder why not the US?

China has that much of interest as that US has.

China has trade and security interest in the South Asian countries and so has the US.
China is next door, they have their regional concerns and interests about what goes around. China cannot be ignored as growing power. SAARC will gain by interacting with China or even with the Shanghai group.
Btw, China was granted observer status only after India sucessfully lobbied for inclusion of Afghanistan.


US technology is esential to "fire" South Asian industries and if the US is an observer, it will have a better understanding of the South Asian needs.
Valid point there and if American interference is restricted to economic interests only it might do us all good.
But we both know that it will not be the case. US is seeking ground to enhance political interest aswell.
SAARC should have an independant regional policy, putting our own interest in the first place.

Neo
01 Apr 06,, 15:23
And that is blind regionalism. Frankly in your mind I have very strong feeling it's more to do with the fact that it's the United States, rather than a non-South-Asian country, wishing to join as observer.

But I could just be guessing.

No Sir!
Please tell me, does the USA enjoy observer status in the EU, ASEAN or other major blocks?
My objections to US getting access to SAARC are of poilitical nature, I disapprove their foreign policy and don't want any of that in the region.
SAARC can work and grow, even without US interference.
Thats just my opinion..

Neo
01 Apr 06,, 15:28
And just for the record since you don't actually know me, I'm not anti American, not a bit!
I just don't trust them. :cool:

Neo
07 Apr 06,, 13:37
The new player in South Asia

Meenakshi Iyer

New Delhi, April 6, 2006|20:15 IST
Is it the dragon's meteoric rise that worries US?

Or as the Leftists say — it wants to create a unipolar world with its complete hegemony.

Why else then would it hinge on an observer status in the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc)?

While analysts continue to chafe the hidden agenda behind Uncle Sam's keenness for an observer status in Saarc, it comes as no surprise to the media in Pakistan.

"Saarc has not freely traded within itself - its member states have their largest trading partners outside the region. In all cases, the United States remains the single-country trading partner. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone…" the Daily Times says.

The country had sent its request to Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin for observer status of SAARC.

Apart from US, China and Japan have also applied for the observer status.

Washington is already a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and attends the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum, which makes its case stronger.

Moreover, "it is the largest trading partner in the region and most member states keep their reserves in dollars for their trade payments," the Daily Times explains.

Every SAARC meeting has achieved precious little in promoting trade and economic cooperation. As the paper explains, "It (Saarc) could easily take off as a trading bloc but most of the states are still stuck with bilateral disputes that they think should be resolved first".

Further, in a covert message, the paper attempts to say that as a regional organisation, Saarc has been ineffective because of the presence of a 'third party', supposedly India.

"Most regional organisations are set up against a 'third party'…but in case of Saarc there is no external enemy to target collectively. It is said that Saarc has been ineffective because the 'third party' has been located within it," the paper says.

India remains one of the major powers in the region.

"India's peripheral states, unable to withstand India's political clout, have been trying to reach out to extra-regional players as a strategic make-weight. But India, in a sort of unspoken Monroe Doctrine, has objected to this.

"It (India) has the potential of becoming a regional hegemon. Letting outsiders in would water down its hegemony…" the editorial says.

Meanwhile, in India the Leftists have already started raising the banner of revolt.

CPI's General Secretary AB Bardhan says, "there is no rationale behind its (USA) move. Indeed, the Saarc is a regional forum of independent sovereign countries for cooperation and development.

At the best, it can have bilateral relations with other regional forums like the ASEAN and the European Union (EU)".

He adds that granting observer status to the US will only complicate the matters at Saarc, which has yet to consolidate its functioning.

Ray
07 Apr 06,, 19:07
The US is the largest trading partner in the region and many countries have survived with US doles including the writing off of loans in the neighbourhood of India. (Thread in the Economic sub forum)

Therefore, the US has legitimacy to be an observer.

China has underwritten some countries of the region but not all! Possibly, other countries are self sufficient and do not require China's assistance.

Hence, the US' claim is stronger than that of China.

If China can be an observer, there is no reason why the US cannot.

AP Bardhan who is quoted in the news item is from the Communist Party of India and hence does not reflect the Indian view.