Dec 22, Colombo: The seventh South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) speakers and parliamentarians' conference has commenced in Maldives Saturday.
A Sri Lankan delegation led by the Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa left for Maldives Saturday to attend the conference.
The Sri Lankan delegation comprised Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sumedha Jayasena, Senior Minister A H M Fowzie, Parliamentarians Gayantha Karunathilaka and Anoma Gamage, Parliament's Secretary General Dhammika Dassanayaka and the Speaker's Private Secretary Saranga Wanigasinghe.
Officially inaugurating the three-day conference Saturday, Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom called on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to be more relevant to meet the expectations for more than 1.5 billion people in South Asia.
Female South Asian parliamentarians and secretary-generals of SAARC parliaments met at the first session of the conference held in Bandos island resort Saturday.
Female South Asian parliamentarians meeting chaired by the Maldivian MP Maria Ahmed Didi discussed the opportunities available in South Asia to female parliamentarians and obstacles to increasing the role of female parliamentarians.
The secretary generals meeting, chaired by the secretary general of the Maldives parliament Ahmed Mohamed, discussed ways to cut administrative costs of the parliaments of South Asian countries.
Meanwhile, SAARC Speakers and parliamentarians who are in the Maldives to attend the Conference made a courtesy call on President Gayoom Saturday evening at Bandos Island Resort before the inauguration of the conference and discussed the importance of the conference.
Parliamentarians from the Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan are attending the conference in Maldives while Nepal and Bangladesh are absent from the conference due to political turmoil in those countries.