The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an organization of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined the organization in 2007. Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.
In the late 1970s, SAARC nations agreed upon the creation of a trade bloc consisting of South Asian countries. The idea of regional cooperation in South Asia was again mooted in May 1980. The foreign secretaries of the seven countries met for the first time in Colombo in April 1981. The Committee of the Whole, which met in Colombo in August 1981, identified five broad areas for regional cooperation
The objectives of the Association as defined in the Charter are:- •to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; •to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential; •to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia; •to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's problems; •to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields; •to strengthen cooperation with other developing countries; •to strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interest; and •to cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.