Nepal’s Thapa is SAARC secretary general

Kathmandu, March 3: Nepal’s former foreign secretary Arjun Bahadur Thapa Monday assumed charge as secretary general of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at a function organised at the SAARC Secretariat here.

Thapa succeeds outgoing secretary general from Maladives, Ahmed Salem, who completed his tenure February-end.

Thapa is the 12th secretary general of the eight-member SAARC regional grouping.

After taking charge as secretary general, Thapa told IANS that he would try his best to execute projects agreed to by the member sates.

“The member states, in the past, had agreed to implement various regional and sub-regional projects and my priority would be to implement these projects at the earliest with the consent of the member states,” he said.

Thapa was appointed to the post by the erstwhile Khil Raj Regmi government in September last year. SAARC picks its secretary generals according to the alphabetic order of the member states and this time it was Nepal’s turn to officiate.

Nepal will also hold the 18th SAARC Summit later this year.

This is the second time that Nepal has an opportunity to lead the secretariat after former foreign secretary Yadav Kant Silwal held the post from January 1994 to December 1995. Thapa’s name was approved in the 35th SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers meet held in the Maldives Feb 20.

The SAARC secretary general serves a three-year term.

Recently retired from foreign service, Thapa joined the administrative service in 1983 at the ministry of law and later joined the foreign service in 1999 through a competitive examination.

Earlier, Thapa had served in various capacities in Nepali missions aboard, including serving as Nepal’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, as deputy chief of mission in Nepal’s Permanent Mission in New York and several other divisions of the foreign ministry.

Thapa holds a master’s degree in international law from Moscow.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail.com)

IANS