Combat the curse of terrorism, says Rajapaksa

August 2nd, 2008 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Aug 2 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday called upon the countries of South Asia to redouble efforts to combat “the curse of terrorism” plaguing the region. “As we meet today, most countries of our region are faced with the curse of terrorism that threatens the peace and stability that is needed so much for the forward march of our people,” Rajapaksa told the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.

The president said no country in the region had been spared of terrorism which he described as a “plague”.

“We need to redouble our efforts for collective action to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It is imperative to remember the element of interdependence which is crucial for durable peace and the protection of democratic values.

“We must ensure strengthening regional legal mechanism and intensifying intelligence sharing in order to secure the region’s collective prosperity, peace and stability.”

In an implicit reference to Western criticism of human rights abuses in countries such as Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said: “In my view it is also necessary that we, as a region, endeavour to set right the many wrong impressions that exist, or are promoted elsewhere, about the actions that are imperative to protect our people and societies from the brutalities of terrorism.

“Terrorism anywhere is terrorism and there are no good terrorists or bad terrorists.”

The Sri Lankan president also called for greater economic cooperation among the countries of SAARC, which groups Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

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