Chidambaram, Malik co-travellers for SAARC security conference (Roundup)

July 22nd, 2011 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Home Minister P. Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik were Friday on the same Druk Air flight to Bhutan to attend a SAARC conference on anti-terrorism cooperation between the eight-nation grouping Saturday.

According to home ministry officials, the two leaders took the Druk Air flight at around 11.30 a.m. from New Delhi to Paro, from where they travelled by road to the scenic Bhutanese capital Thimphu.

Malik had a brief transit halt at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here en route to Thimphu, which is hosting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meet.

Malik during his halt tweeted his “best wishes from Dehli (during transit stay here at the airport) to my Indian brothers and sisters”.

The Pakistani interior minister added: “We all want peace and nothing but peace for coming generations. Media needs to play its vital role for peace in this region.”

It was not known if the two leaders held any discussion onboard the flight to Paro. “They did exchange pleasantries but we don’t know if they held any discussions,” an official said here.

The home and interior ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will hold talks and try to foster greater cooperation in security and anti-terror measures among the member states.

The conference comes days after the Mumbai serial blasts of July 13 that killed 20 people and injured scores.

The fourth meeting of SAARC home ministers will also discuss maritime security, smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

They will also deliberate on ties to curb crimes like trafficking of women and children in the region.

Chidambaram and Malik are expected to meet on the sidelines of the SAARC conference. However, no formal meeting has been scheduled.

It will be their second meeting after their previous one in Islamabad last year on the sidelines of the 3rd SAARC meeting of home ministers.

The Thimphu meeting will consider the report of the home secretaries who met in the Bhutanese capital Friday.

Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh represented India at the meeting of the interior and home secretaries.

The security conferences are aimed at fostering greater ties among SAARC nations and strengthening police cooperation and other means to combat terrorism afflicting the region.

The conferences will review the progress made in the implementation of the decisions taken at the third meeting last year in Islamabad.

The 2010 conferences discussed proposals like maritime security and anti-piracy operations under the SAARC charter.

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