SAARC Summit concludes
The 11th SAARC Summit ended today in Kathmandu with leaders officially ratifying the Kathmandu Declaration.
Significant decisions were taken in the areas of poverty alleviation, accelerated economic cooperation, social sector development, terrorism and people‑to‑people contact among others.
Although bilateral matters are not discussed in keeping with SAARC regulations, unofficial meetings were held among many of the leaders.
With hostilities increasing in the Kashmir region, much of the attention of this year’s Summit focused on Indo-Pakistan relations. Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf made a surprise conciliatory gesture by shaking hands with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee after the former’s address to the Summit. India however has sought more tangible measures from Pakistan to counter cross-border terrorism.
The 12th SAARC Summit is scheduled to be held in Pakistan in early 2003.
Asia needs to understand causes of terrorism – CBK
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga stressed the need to understand the causes of terrorism in her address to the 11th SAARC Summit yesterday in Kathmandu as the outgoing Chairperson. While giving a general overview of SAARC’s activities during the past year, she focused more on the area of terrorism.
Kumaratunga said, “We need today to desperately study and understand the true causes of terrorism and terrorist movements.” Noting that most nations within the region continue to suffer from terrorism she expressed the need to “join hands more honestly and with more dedication.”
Kumaratunga admitted that a major strength of SAARC was the position it held within the region as well as the rest of the world. However, she said she felt this aspect could be further developed.
Speaking of the effect of the September 11th attacks and Afghanistan’s position in South Asia, Kumaratunga said, “[It] will continue to seriously affect our region, politically and economically for a long time.”
In essence, Kumaratunga maintained her long-standing belief of finding the root causes of terrorism. She said, “It may not be sufficient to say, that we will hunt down the perpetrators of terror and their allies. We must attempt to understand the deep‑rooted causes of this most unnatural, de‑humanising phenomenon very specific to the 20th century.”
moves to fight abuse of women, children
The seven-member South Asian bloc Saturday endorsed two conventions in a bid to stem the trafficking of women and children for prostitution.
Foreign ministers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries signed The Regional Convention on Combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution and the Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia, giving effect to an agreement reached at the previous summit in Sri Lanka in 1998.
Tens of thousands of women and children are forced into prostitution in South Asian countries and some are held as sex slaves while an increasing number of children are deployed as combatants in the region.
"With these conventions we have expressed our concern for the protection of women and children," said Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who took over as chair of SAARC from President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando in conversation with Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh during the 11th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal
holds talks with SAARC leaders
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga held bilateral talks with the leaders of Nepal, Maldives, India and Bhutan on Friday.
Kumaratunga met with the Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.
At talks held with Gayoom, both leaders had agreed that, although the SAARC charter forbids bilateral issues on its agenda, unofficial meetings between heads of state would aid in diffusing tension between countries.
While talks with the Nepalese Prime Minster focused mainly on making the SAARC organization more efficient, Kumaratunga focused more on the progress of peace talks in her meeting with the Bhutanese Premier.
Kumaratunga was reported to have had a 40-minute closed-door meeting with Vajpayee in Kathmandu. It is believed that the two discussed issues on terrorism and SAARC. Indian Spokeswoman, Anupama Rao, told the media that the talks were purely bilateral. Admitting that she was not completely aware of the details of the meeting, she said, “maybe they discussed a lot of serious issues.”
Summit postponed for Saturday
The SAARC Summit scheduled to begin Friday afternoon, was postponed till Saturday due to the delay in the arrival of Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf.
According to the latest reports from Nepal, the Pakistani President arrived in Kathmandu Friday evening.
President General Pervez Musharraf arrived in China Thursday evening on a brief visit, enroute to Kathmandu. Before leaving Islamabad the President said that he was happy to note that the SAARC Summit was being held after a gap of four years. Gen. Musharraf said he was optimistic that useful discussions would be held for the peace, stability and tranquillity of the region. “I am going with an open mind to contribute my maximum to the SAARC meeting,” he added.
The arrival of Pakistani President was delayed, as the aircraft could not take off at the scheduled time because of unfavourable weather conditions in the People's Republic of China.
The closing ceremony and other programmes of the 11th SAARC Summit are due to take place as scheduled.
President Chandrika Bandaranike Kumaratunga paid a courtesy call on His Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev in Kathmandu Friday.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando, the Royal Nepalese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Bal Bahadur Kunwar and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Nepal Pamela J. Deen were also present on the occasion.
arrives in Kathmandu for SAARC Summit
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga leading a Sri Lankan delegation arrived in Kathmandu Thursday, to take part in the 11th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation beginning Friday.
Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba welcomed the Sri Lankan President at the VVIP Lounge of Tribhuwan International Airport. Also present on the occasion were the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Tyronne Fernando, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. G Wijayasiri and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Nepal, Mrs. Pamela J. Deen.
A contingent of the Royal Nepal Army presented a guard of honor to the distinguished guest and the National Anthems of both countries were played. Five young girls welcomed Kumaratunga by offering bouquets.
The Chief Justice, The Speaker, The Chairman of the National Assembly, the Chairman of the Raj Parishad Standing Committee and the Leader of the main Opposition Party in Nepal were also present at the airport to greet President Kumaratunga.
Minister-in-waiting Sharat Singh Bhandari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Arjun Jung Bahadur Singh, high-ranking officials of the Nepali government, The Royal Nepal Army and the Nepal Police were also present on the occasion.
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