Economic group SAARC gives Iran observer status

Eight South Asian nations on Wednesday accepted Iran as an observer to their economic grouping - the same status accorded to the United States, China, the European Union, South Korea and Japan. "The heads of state or government welcomed the Islamic Republic of Iran to be associated as observer to SAARC," said a declaration adopted by member-states of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Maldives comprise the SAARC which was set up in 1985 to promote economic cooperation. Iran applied for observer status ahead of the two-day SAARC summit which ended on Wednesday.