Asia's two major economic giants Japan and China have welcomed the decision of the 13th SAARC Summit to award them 'observer' status in the regional body and vowed to strengthen relationships with the regional group by further cooperation, reports BDNEWS.
The 13th SAARC Summit, held November 12-13 in the city, decided to include Afghanistan as a new member in the regional grouping and awarded China and Japan the 'observer' status.
Both the decisions will, however, come into effect after the council of ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) ratify it during a meeting in Dhaka after six months.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao in Beijing said China expressed readiness to cooperate with members of the SAARC to improve reciprocal cooperation and achieve common prosperity.
"China welcomes the successful convocation of the 13th Summit of SAARC and hopes that southern Asian countries can make further achievements in the process of promoting regional cooperation," he said.
Liu said that the Summit accepted China in principle as observer of SAARC, of which China thinks positively. "We stand ready to work with SAARC members to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation to realise common prosperity," he said.
Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement by its Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations Tuesday welcomed the decision of awarding it observer status to SAARC.
"Japan has supported SAARC's activities through the Japan-SAARC Special Fund, amongst other means, on the understanding that SAARC is contributing to regional stability and development in South Asia, which in turn is integral to Asia in its entirety," the statement said.
Japan will coordinate the modalities of its observer status, and remains committed to strengthening its relationship with SAARC, through participation as observer, it added.
SAARC member countries include Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.