Nepal to raise climate change at SAARC meet

Prerana Marasini

KATHMANDU: The Himalayan country will be discussing climate change and global warming at the 15th SAARC Summit in Sri Lanka.

Before leaving for Colombo on Wednesday, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said: "The glaciers are melting in the Himalayan region faster than before; mountains are melting and agricultural cycle is also affected, we'll be raising these issues at the Summit."

Besides the effect of climate change and the measures to control its effects, Dr. Mahat said, economic cooperation and integration among the SAARC region would also be stressed. "Nepal has potential on hydropower, if we are able to strengthen it, we would be able to reduce our dependency on petroleum products."

Dr. Mahat said the SAARC region is heavily dependent on imported fuel. "India has coal and Bangladesh has gas," he said, "If we are able to work on an inter-regional level, our dependency on other countries [besides SAARC] would be minimised."

About Nepal-India cooperation, Dr. Mahat said, We would request India to reduce the export duty on steel products," adding, "Nepal has been affected by the high price in steel products."

Meanwhile, political parties eventually agreed to send Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to participate in the event. Earlier, Maoists and CPN (UML) were against his participation, as they said Mr. Koirala was just a "caretaker Prime Minister" and that his resignation had been approved by the President.

Meanwhile, Nepal's largest political party, the CPN (Maoists) has been finally invited to form a new government.

President Ram Baran Yadav has asked the Maoists to form a government of consensus within a week. On Tuesday, the office of the President issued a statement that asked the Maoists to form a government, as they are the single largest party of the country.

Dr. Yadav also met Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), Maoists' spokesperson, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, and another leader Kiran Baidya on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Mahara said: "The President has asked us to work towards consensus." He also said the Maoists informed the President that they were working on to forge a consensus within a week.

Earlier, the Maoists said they would join government only when they are allowed to stay in power for two years.

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