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PM pitches for cooperation among SAARC countries

india Updated: Jul 31, 2008 21:46 IST

On the eve of his visit to Colombo for the SAARC Summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday pitched for cooperation among its member countries to face the "common challenges" and expressed confidence that the upcoming meet would provide impetus to implementation of decisions already taken.

"Today, there is a realization amongst SAARC countries that it is only by cooperating within SAARC that we will be able to strengthen ourselves individually and as a region and address the many common challenges that face us," he said in a statement here.

Referring to the 14th SAARC Summit held here last year, he said that the member states of the eight-nation grouping had agreed to move the regional body from a "phase of declaration to a phase of implementation and action".

As part of this approach, he said several initiatives have been taken. He identified these as establishment of SAARC Development Fund, SAARC Food Bank, the proposal to establish South Asian University, SAFTA and greater people-to-people contacts.

"I am confident that the forthcoming summit will consolidate these gains and provide an impetus to the implementation of the many decisions that are in place," Singh said.

He pointed out that during his three-day stay in Colombo, he would meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and other leaders of the SAARC countries.

SAARC comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.