Terrorism, economic cooperation issues to dominate SAARC meet in Colombo

February 22nd, 2009 - 10:31 pm ICT by ANI  

Colombo, Feb.22 (ANI): Terrorism and economic cooperation will be high on the agenda at the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) ministerial meet to be held in Colombo this week, where External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will represent India.
“The SAARC Council of Ministers represented by the Foreign Ministers of SAARC Member States will meet in Colombo on 27-28 February for its Inter-Summit Session,” a Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry statement said.
The ministerial meet of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and host Sri Lanka will be preceded by official and Foreign Secretary level discussions.
Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and other senior officials of the ministry will accompany the External Affairs minister during the meet.
Pranab is to attend the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers on Feb.27, where he is expected to underline the need for early ratification of SAARC Convention on Terrorism which is already in place.
India is expected to press for concrete and sincere cooperation by Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism, as the meet comes just three months after the deadly Mumbai terror strikes.
Mukherjee is expected to meet his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollogama and discuss the latest situation in north of Sri Lanka.
India has already expressed it concern over the humanitarian situation caused by the conflict in north Sri Lanka.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will address the 31st Session of the Council of Ministers on Feb.27 in his capacity as the current Chair of SAARC.
The meeting is expected to discuss terrorism and the implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol as well as the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.
Apart from exploring ways and means of expediting progress in agreed areas of cooperation, the meetings will discuss current issues of concern for the region with a view to taking regional action to address challenges.
Issues related to social development, health and population and narcotic drugs is also likely to be discussed during the meeting.
Since assuming the chairmanship of SAARC, Sri Lanka has hosted two SAARC Ministerial Meetings, namely on Energy and on Parliamentary Affairs.
This year will also see Sri Lanka host SAARC Ministerial Meetings on Higher Education, which will be the first such meeting in SAARC.
As current chair of the SAARC Working Groups on Tourism and Bio-technology, Sri Lanka will host meetings of these Working Groups in April and June this year.
This year will also witness the operationalisation of the SAARC Cultural Centre which will be located in Matara, 161 kilometres from Colombo.
Meanwhile, at least 73 Tamil Tigers were killed by Sri Lankan forces during fierce fighting that further reduced the territory under rebel control as the army offensive against the LTTE entered its last phases in Mullaittivu, the military spokesman said on Sunday.
Sri Lankan Army moved in from all directions to take the last few LTTE pockets around Mullaittivu even as it captured a weapon production factory of the rebel outfit, the spokesman said.
However, heavy fighting continued between troops and LTTE in West of Puthukkudiyirippu and East of Ampalavanpokkanai in Mullaittivu since Saturday morning as counter terrorist operations entered its last phases in Mullaittivu, military sources said.
At least 36 Tiger rebels were killed and over a dozen reported injured in the fighting while security forces also confirmed recovering 11 LTTE bodies during subsequent search operations conducted, the defence ministry said.(ANI)

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