Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has welcomed the proposal by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to formulate a common strategy to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
"I welcome the idea advanced by Prime Minister Modiji @narendramodi for chalking out a strong strategy by the leadership of the SAARC nations to fight Coronavirus. My government is ready to work closely with SAARC Member States to protect our citizens from this deadly disease," the official Twitter handle of PM Oli has posted Friday afternoon.
Foreign affairs advisor to PM Oli Rajan Bhattarai earlier told Setopati that the Indian Embassy has sent the proposal to the Prime Minister's Office through the Foreign Ministry.
"The PMO has received their proposal through formal channel. We are holding discussion," Bhattarai stated. "The date for video conferencing, however, has yet to be decided."
Modi has sent similar invitations to other SAARC leaders.
Modi, who has been bypassing the SAARC forum in recent years and promoting BIMSTEC which does not include Pakistan due to the tension with Pakistan, has made the proposal through Twitter on Friday.
"Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it. South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population should leave no stone unturned to ensure our people are healthy," he has tweeted.
"I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight Coronavirus. We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet."
Modi's proposal comes a day after India reported the first coronavirus death. India has 75 confirmed cases, Nepal one, Pakistan 20, Maldives eight, Sri Lanka two, and Bangladesh three. One American man has tested positive in Bhutan.