SAARC summit concludes with accords on food, security

August 3rd, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, Aug 3 (IANS) The 15th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) successfully concluded its two-day proceedings Sunday evening, where leaders of the eight member countries agreed to adopt four major agreements on food security, trade and terrorism related issues. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held several bilateral meetings with Sri Lankan and other leaders here, after handing over the SAARC chair to the host country President Mahinda Rajapaksa, left for New Delhi by a special aircraft Sunday evening.

Officials said that four major agreements - the SAARC development fund, the establishment of a SAARC standard organization, the SAARC convention on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, and the protocol on Afghanistan’s admission to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) - were adopted at the Colombo summit.

A special Colombo statement on food security declared that the leaders participating in the 15th SAARC summit have affirmed their resolve “to ensure region-wide food security and make South Asia, once again, the granary of the world”.

“In view of the emerging global situation of reduced food availability and worldwide rise in food prices, we direct that an Extra-ordinary Meeting of the Agriculture Ministers of the SAARC Member States be convened in New Delhi, India, in November 2008, to evolve and implement a people-centred, short- to medium-term regional strategy and collaborative projects,” it said.

In his concluding statement, new SAARC chairman Rajapaksa said that the summit had to grapple with food and energy security and terrorism related issues. These, he said, have in recent times come to pose strong challenges throughout the globe and in the region.

“The South Asia cannot progress, unless there is stability and security throughout the region. We have condemned all forms of terrorist violence and emphasized that our states should firmly cooperate, especially through the exchange of information on terrorism and organized crime,” President Rajapaksa said.

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