Feb 10, 2009

SAARC urges anti-terror acts

Eight South Asian countries adopted a regional anti-terrorism cooperation agreement on Sunday.Leaders of the countries also approved the immediate establishment of a food bank to cope with regional shortages triggered by rising prices, as well as plans for improving energy security in the impoverished region, home to nearly one-fifth of the world’s population.The anti-terrorism agreement calls for freezing funds that might be used for terrorist activities, regular meetings between security chiefs, the exchange of intelligence, and training of personnel dealing with terrorism and drug offenses.The agreement may not be easy to implement in view of accusations by India and Afghanistan that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service helped a militant group bomb India’s embassy in Afghanistan on July 7, killing 41 people. The allegation cast a shadow over the two-day summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC.The foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka signed the anti-terrorism agreement, as well as endorsing the creation of a regional development fund and rules for standardisation of products traded among the countries.SAARC agreed to focus on developing hydropower and renewable energy programmes involving solar equipment and wind turbines.The 15th SAARC Summit has concluded in Colombo with a renewed commitment for strengthening cooperation to combat terrorism besides promoting cooperation in the fields of energy, economy, environment and education to bring peace and stability for the progress and prosperity of the people of South Asia.In a declaration issued at the conclusion of the two days summit here on Sunday, the leaders of SAARC countries reaffirmed their commitment for making collective efforts to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development for ensuring welfare of the people of the region.The SAARC leaders also resolved to adhere to the principles and objectives of the association enshrined in the SAARC Charter and work together for improving the quality of life of their peoples thereby contributing to peace, stability and progress in the region. They strongly condemned all forms of terrorism, violence and expressed deep concern over the serious threat by terrorism to the peace and stability in the region and reiterated commitment to strengthen peace and stability in the region.They recognised that SAARC has been making steady and incremental progress over the years and in particular since the last summit held in New Delhi towards realising the objectives of the Charter.

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