Maldives on Sunday made a strong plea for security cooperation among SAARC countries and asked them to seek observer status in the United Nations as a regional grouping.
"As we are signing the protocol against terrorism, is it not possible to have regional security cooperation also as a
common interest rather than a contentious issue," asked Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom while addressing the 12ht SAARC Summit here.
He also suggested that SAARC nations should collectively seek an observer status in the United Nations in order to "enhance credibility as a regional grouping".
Terrorism and drug trafficking had the potential to "cripple any nation" and cause extensive human and material damage, he said expressing support for the additional protocol on terrorism.
Gayoom voiced concern over the low volume of intra- regional trade among the countries of the region and said efforts should be made to move towards a South Asia Economic Union, while pointing out that trade should "not only be free but equitable also".
Delving on the problem of environmental degradation, Gayoom asked the SAARC nations to sign the Kyoto Protocol and work towards creating a SAARC environmental action plan and setting up of a SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre at Male.