Mr. Thapa, who succeeds Ahmed Saleem of Maldives, is the 12th Secretary General of the regional grouping.

Nepal’s former Foreign Secretary Arjun Bahadur Thapa has assumed charge as the Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Thapa, who succeeds Ahmed Saleem of Maldives, is the 12th Secretary General of the regional grouping, according to a statement by the SAARC Secretariat here today.

This is the second time Nepal assumed the top post of the regional body since its establishment in 1985.

Former Foreign Secretary Yadav Kanta Silwal held the post from January 1994 to December 1995.

The members of the SAARC are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Thapa, 58, was appointed to the position by the 30th Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers held in the Maldives on February 20.

The council endorsed his nomination and approved his appointment for a three—year term commencing from March 1, the statement said.

Thapa had served as Foreign Secretary of Nepal as well as charge de’ affairs of the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations.

Coincidentally, Kathmandu will host the 18th SAARC Summit in November this year, when the chairmanship of the regional body will go to Nepal.