SAARC summit concludes with resolve to fight terrorism

SAARC summit concludes with resolve to fight terrorism

At the end of the 2-day meeting of heads of government and state at this Maldivian city, south of equator, the eight-nation grouping adopted "Addu Declaration" which said it was "deeply concerned" about the continuing threat of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

To combat and root out terrorism, the summit called for an early conclusion of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and conclusion of the ratification of the SAARC convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

The leaders signed the SAARC agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters, Seed Bank, Multilateral Arrangement on Recognition of Conformity Assessment and on Implementation of Regional Standards.

They were also worried about transnational organised crimes, especially illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychtropic substances, trafficking in persons and small arms and increased incidents of maritime piracy in the region. They reiterated their resolve to fight all such menaces.

With "Building Bridges" as its theme, the 17th summit recognised the importance of the full implementation of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) as a measure towards the creation of an enabling economic environment in the region.

The Summit directed the SAFTA Ministerial Council to intensify efforts to fully and effectively implement SAFTA and the work on reduction in Sensitive Lists as well as early resolution of non-tariff barriers and expediting the process of harmonising standards and customs procedures.

Addressing the concluding session, host Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed said the ministers have been asked to look into measures to reduce the non-tariff barriers and ad valorem duties.

He welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement yesterday that India has slashed the non-tariff lines (removal of goods) from the Sensitive List for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) in the South Asian region and zero customs on the removed goods.

The declaration said the Summit directed the SAARC Finance Ministers to chart a proposal that would allow for greater flow of financial capital and intra-regional long-term investment.

The Summit decided to conclude the Regional Railways Agreement and to convene the Expert Group meeting on the Motor Vehicles Agreement before the next session of the council of ministers that will make movement within the region much more faster than today. It directed the early conducting of a demonstration run of a container train between Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

The leaders directed the Secretary General to ensure completion of the preparatory work on the Indian Ocean Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service, including the feasibility study, by the end of this year in order to launch the service.

Apart from Nasheed and Prime Minister Singh, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley, Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse attended the Summit in which Australia, China, Iran, Japan, Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar, US and European Union participated as Observers.

The summit directed the SAARC Secretary General to ensure implementation of the Thimphu statement on Climate Change, which is an issue of serious concern for Maldives.

Conclusion of the inter-governmental Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation and the Study on the Regional Power Exchange Concept as also the work related to SAARC market for electricity was also emphasised upon by the leaders.

The leaders decided that an appropriate percentage of national income towards the respective countries' renewable energy investments, subject to the approval of national arrangements should be made available.

The summit decided to initiate work towards combating maritime piracy in the region and direct the finalisation of work on the elaboration of the SAARC Regional Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in women and children for prostitution for adoption by the next summit.

The leaders decided to hold the next summit in Nepal.