The need to provide security to the people of South Asia from hunger and terrorism dominated the 15th South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit which concluded in Colombo on Sunday.
At the end of the eight-day multi-level deliberations capped by the meeting of eight heads of nations, the leaders of some of the poorest and populous countries of the world said the need of the hour was to tackle reduced availability of food and transform the region to the “granary of the world.”
Given the seriousness of the subject, the eight leaders released the “Colombo Statement on Food Security”, which outlined short-to-medium term strategies to “increase food production, development and sharing agricultural technologies, investment in agriculture and in agricultural research” among other aims.
The leaders also convened a meeting of the SAARC agricultural ministers in New Delhi later this year to take the statement forward. They mooted an ambitious plan to operationalise the “SAARC Food Bank”, which would store grain stocks for distribution in case of scarcity in the region.
The eight heads of state released the Colombo Declaration, under the theme ‘Partnership for Growth for Our People.’
During the summit, other than the issue of feeding the hungry millions, the leaders repeatedly emphasised the need to protect the innocent from terrorist attacks.
The signing of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, which was signed at the summit, would go help in providing a sense of security in the region, the leaders said in the Colombo declaration.
Climate change and in its impact on lives and livelihood also figured in the deliberations and the Colombo declaration.
The leaders of the eight countries would again gather in Maldives in 2009 for the 16th summit.
Karzai meets Gilani
Afghanistan on Sunday decided to resume talks with Pakistan weeks after blaming the latter for a series of attacks in and around Kabul including the suicide bomber attack on the Indian Embassy in July.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani met Afghan President Hamid Karzai over breakfast on the sidelines of the summit.
The two countries had abruptly stopped diplomatic exchanges after Karzai had blamed Pakistan's ISI of triggering the blast outside the Indian embassy within an hour of the incident.