The 16th SAARC summit began in Thimphu on Wednesday with heads of eight South Asian countries seeking a joint initiative to tackle climate change threats and also boost trade and regional cooperation. The Thimphu summit which marks the 25th year of the regional grouping’s existence, kicked off at around 2:30pm (BdST) in this serene and pollution-free capital city of Bhutan, with outgoing SAARC chairperson Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksha opening the session. Rajapaksha is chairing the inaugural function. Seeking a fresh approach to global climate talks the SAARC leaders would pitch for observer status to the bloc at the Mexico conference on global warming later this year. The next global climate talks after Copenhagen in September last are likely to be held in Cancun in Mexico in December. The Thimphu summit marks the silver jubilee celebration of SAARC that was formed in Bangladesh in December 1985 with the aim of eradicating poverty and improving the living standard of 1.5 billion people of the region through mutual cooperation. Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to deliver her speech at 4:00pm. Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh will be the first to deliver his speech while Hasina the last speaker. Each of the top leaders will deliver speech for seven to 10 minutes.
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