Efforts to combat terrorism should be redoubled: Rajapaksa

February 27th, 2009 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 27 (IANS) South Asian countries should redouble their efforts to combat the common challenge of terrorism in the region, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said here Friday.
Addressing the thirty-first session of the Council of Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SSARC), President Rajapaksa said that terrorism and global financial meltdown are among several challenges South Asia was facing, and stressed that “common challenges require collective responses”.

“Our societies bear the brunt of the evil force of terrorism. But, we cannot and should not allow even a single citizen of South Asia to suffer as a result of the brutal violence unleashed by terrorists. Therefore, we need to redouble our efforts to combat this menace individually and collectively,” he said.

Claiming that terrorism was a challenge that requires immediate and united attention, he said that SAARC members “cannot shy away from taking firm and forceful action to combat terrorism internationally”.

“We, among other measures, should uphold democracy, support each other’s democracies and make it a vehicle towards defeating terrorism,” Rajapaksa said.

He said the SAARC, being a multilateral outfit, had agreed on a series of measures on how to combat terrorism in line with accepted universal values and standards, adding the time has now “to re-dedicate ourselves to fully implement such agreed measures”.

“Our rich cultures cannot be allowed to be riddled by the curse of terrorism. I hope this ministerial meeting will be able to give further direction on this important current issue for people in this region,” Rajapaksa said.

Warning that the effects of synchronised slowdown in developed economies could reach the South Asian region sooner than later, he said “this downward spiral has the potential to adversely affect our economies and impact on the living standards of our people” unless definite counter measures are taken.

“While we in South Asia can take comfort that economies of our countries are so far functioning well, and financial sectors have been well-regulated and stable, we cannot take for granted that we are fully insulated from the on-going global economic crisis,” he said.

Both India and Pakistan were represented by their respective Ministers of State for External Affairs at the meeting.

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