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Pak for making SAARC into active group

world Updated: Jul 03, 2008 20:46 IST

Pakistan on Thursday favoured energising the SAARC into a "more active group" to promote regional cooperation as South Asia has great potential which needs to be tapped.

Though the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has made significant progress in areas like poverty alleviation, there is still need for strengthening the forum, especially in regional cooperation, environment, water and energy security, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka should play an active role in energising the SAARC, Gilani told visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.

Bogollagama extended an invitation from the Sri Lankan President to Gilani for attending the SAARC Summit to be held in Colombo in August.

Gilani expressed his government's desire to further consolidate ties with Sri Lanka in all fields, particularly politics, economics, defence and security.

He reiterated Pakistan's commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and expressed the hope that lasting and durable peace would be achieved soon in the island nation.

The signing of a Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Sri Lanka has given a boost to economic ties and bilateral trade is growing, Gilani said.

However, there is "still room for further improvement in the areas of trade and services, direct investment, people-to-people contact and tourism", he added.