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US approaches SAARC for observer status

"We recently approached the body requesting observer status," Richard Boucher said at a meeting organised by the CII.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 10:38 IST

US has sought observer status with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and wants to work actively to promote free trade in the region, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher said.

"We recently approached the SAARC Secretary General requesting observer status," he said at a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"South Asian free trade is an opportunity for all the countries of South Asia to help make free trade in the region a reality, and to establish links to Central Asian organisations," he said.

Underscoring the de-hyphenation of ties between the US and India with its relations with Pakistan, he said that both relationships are "important" for Washington and one can't be "traded" for another.

"We can't compare them. Both are important. Pakistan faces the problem of terrorists as well and is our ally in the war on terror," he said.