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India calls for ‘future-oriented’ SAARC summit declaration

Sunday, April 25, 2010 07:59:27 PM, IANS

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SAARC to sign pacts on environment, trade

Thimphu: Ahead of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Bhutan next week, foreign secretaries of the regional grouping’s eight member-states met Sunday with India pitching for a “visionary and future-oriented” summit declaration that spurs greater intra-regional cooperation.

“Each of the areas of cooperation under SAARC has a direct bearing on the lives and livelihoods of the people of our region. Our leaders have correctly identified the focus of SAARC as being development oriented,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said at the standing committee meeting of SAARC.

“In this 25th year of SAARC, we can take satisfaction from the fact that SAARC has evolved into a service provider for the economic and development needs of the people of the region,” she said.

Rao stressed that it was “an opportunity to introspect on the experience of the last 25 years and the course we need to chart in the future not only to maintain, but to accelerate, the momentum SAARC has achieved in the recent past.”

She lauded Bhutan, the chair and host of the 16th SAARC summit, for taking the lead to put climate change at the centre of the SAARC agenda. “Bhutan has led the way among all of us in enshrining respect and sensitivity for environmental concerns and the preservation of our precious environmental space,” Rao said.

“Let us derive impetus from this to work towards a Summit Declaration that is focused, incisive, visionary, and future-oriented as a lasting outcome of our summit,” she said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will join other leaders of South Asian countries in Thimphu April 28, the first time Bhutan is hosting a summit of SAARC countries that account for nearly one-fourth of the world’s humanity.

The April-29 summit is expected to culminate in a joint declaration entitled “Towards a Green and Happy South Asia” and will see the signing of two pacts on environment and trade in services. A separate Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change will also be issued at the end of the summit.

At the summit, India will focus on improving regional connectivity through the development of new trade, transport and telecommunication links, Rao said days ahead of the summit.



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