India will focus on stepping up connectivity in South Asia through new trans-border transport networks, energy corridors and freer flow of people and ideas, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in New Delhi on Saturday while unveiling the agenda for the 14th SAARC summit in April in New Delhi.
"As we prepare for the summit, India will take the initiative in accelerating regional economic and political cooperation," Mukherjee said at the concluding session of the two-day conclave of leading editors from the eight South Asian Association from Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.
"We will play a positive role in the establishment of new trans-border transport networks and energy corridors so that the 14th summit of SAARC gives a clear signal for improving the connectivity within the subcontinent by ensuring free flow of trade, commerce, goods, people and ideas," Mukherjee said.
The next SAARC editors' conference will be held in Karachi in 2008.
A comprehensive resolution was adopted at the end of the conference that urged the governments of SAARC countries to enable "freer movement of journalists by issuing multiple-entry long-term visas to all bona fide journalists." The resolution also asked the SAARC governments to "dismantle all border barriers to free flow and exchange of news media products in the region."
Responding to the call of the editors' conference for liberalising the visa regime, Mukherjee said there is a need for "media persons as well as media products to move easily across the borders."
"The media is the torch-bearer of better people-to-people contacts," he said while calling upon the media to be aware of their power as well as responsibilities in creating "bridges of understanding" between neighbouring countries.
The minister also underlined that the future of South Asian countries is a common future in which every member nation - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan - has a stake in the economic success of the other.