By A Staff Reporter Kathmandu, Sept. 17: Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has said that the COVID-19 health crisis and its impact on the economy have heightened the importance of mutual cooperation and support among the members of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). “The pandemic has inflicted serious impacts to the South Asian economy along with the global economy and to address the impacts we must increase mutual cooperation,” he said while addressing the 15th informal meeting of the finance ministers of the SAARC member nations. Minister Gyawali chaired the meeting. He said that the protection of lives of people in the SAARC region would only be possible through the cooperation and collective resource mobilisation. “We must activate the regional economic mechanisms and devise strategy for the economic revival, improve the condition of the poor and workers who have lost job, and address their psycho-social challenges,” said Gyawali. Secretary General of SAARC Esala Weerakoon had given the opening speech and lead economist of the Asian Development Bank Yasuyuki Sawada had presented a paper on ‘COVID-19 and South Asian economy’. The finance ministers of the SAARC member countries said that the formal mechanisms of the regional organisation must be activated to give the much needed impetus to the regional economy. Gyawali has chaired the meeting on behalf of the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Nepal. The meeting was conducted via video conferencing.