Saarc mutual legal assistance treaty may be finalised: Pranab

July 24th, 2008 - 4:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) A Saarc convention on mutual legal assistance in tackling crime is likely to be finalised at the forthcoming summit of the grouping in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here Thursday. Speaking at a seminar on South Asian Economic Integration, the minister pointed out that the recent suicide bomb blast targeting the Indian embassy in Kabul showed “how vulnerable South Asia continues to be to terrorism”.

“We have initiated discussions on a draft convention on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. This will enable us to implement action against such crimes in the neighbourhood with regional cooperation,” said Mukherjee at the seminar organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

He added that the discussions “will be finalised at the forthcoming summit”, referring to the 15th Saarc summit to be held in Colombo next week.

“While development projects bring benefits to those that most require it, the Saarc governments have a collective responsibility to ensure that growth and development within the region take place in a crime-free atmosphere where people feel secure,” he said.

Earlier, he said India had kept the commitment of “moving Saarc from declaration to implementation”.

He asserted that India would transfer the entire amount of $100 million voluntary contribution to the Saarc Development Fund within this year.

The minister said the second meeting of transport ministers in Colombo in September will be able to finalise the draft Regional Motor Vehicles and Railway Agreement. “I hope the agreement will accelerate seamless travel from Kabul to Male,” he said.

India, he said, had already upgraded rail links at border points of Raxaul-Birganj and Jogbani-Biratnagar linking India and Nepal, while road upgradation at Akhaura-Agartala, providing a link between India and Bangladesh, would be accelerated shortly.

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