Ahead of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, India on Tuesday asked the eight-nation group to rally against terrorism, which poses a serious danger to the economic stability of the region.
"The South Asian region is particularly afflicted by this menace. The time has come for us to rally against the forces of terrorism that seek to divide and weaken our societies," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said while addressing the SAARC Council of Ministers in Thimpu, Bhutan's capital.
Krishna made a strong pitch for early conclusion of the proposed UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and ratification of other regional instruments to jointly combat terrorism.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will arrive in Thimpur on Wednesday for the two-day summit during which terrorism is expected to figure high on the agenda.
Krishna said SAARC countries have an abiding obligation to address pressing problems such as terrorism, drugs, poverty, unemployment, trafficking in women and children and illiteracy.
These should be addressed through well-defined goals based on mutual cooperation and understanding.
"Our effort will be to infuse a fresh dynamism into the regional processes and to strive to channelise the fruits of our collective efforts to the most vulnerable sections of our societies," he said.
The minister said as the countries emerge out of a period of unprecedented global recession into expectations of relative economic growth and stability, they should seize the opportunity to collectively enhance trade, open borders and facilitate economic integration in the region.
"Our focus should be on improving regional connectivity through upgrading trade, transport and telecommunication links; addressing issues relating to trade facilitation such as harmonisation of customs procedures and standards and increasing understanding through greater people-to-people contacts," Krishna said.
India, he said, was fully committed to working within SAARC to contribute to the development of the region through social development and regional economic integration.
He noted that regional projects initiated by India in tele-medicine, tele-education, rain water harvesting, seed testing laboratories and solar rural electrification, are under implementation in most SAARC member states.
Krishna said India supported a fresh SAARC position on climate change in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change principles and the Bali Action Plan.
Under this, concerns of developing countries have been taken onboard.