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COVID-19: Commerce ministry officials of SAARC countries to meet in next few days

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Commerce ministry officials of all the SAARC countries will hold deliberations in the next few days on possible areas of cooperation to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the region, official sources said on Wednesday.

At an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on March 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that the member nations of the bloc should come together to jointly fight against the pandemic.

In the conference, Modi pledged USD 10 million towards a COVID-19 emergency fund for the regional grouping.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Last week, India proposed setting up of a common electronic platform for all SAARC nations to share expertise and best practices to jointly combat the spread of coronavirus.

Commerce ministry officials of the SAARC countries will exchange views through video conference this week to expand cooperation to fight the current challenge, the sources said.

All the SAARC member nations are reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.

India has recorded over 1,600 positive cases of coronavirus and nearly 40 deaths so far. Globally, the virus has infected more than 850,000 people and claimed around 42,000 lives.

Asked about India exporting medical supplies to Serbia when the country itself was reeling under shortage of medical devices officials said the equipment sent to the European nation does not include items on 'prohibited list'.

On Sunday, United Nations Development Programme in Serbia tweeted that the country received 90 tonnes of "medical protective equipment" from India.

The sources said India is also scouting global markets to procure ventilators, N95 masks and personal protective equipment for medical professional taking care of coronavirus affected people.

Asked whether India would pitch for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the coronavirus crisis globally, the sources said it was for the member nations of the powerful UN forum to take a decision on the issue.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Wed, April 01 2020. 22:48 IST