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SAARC Summit begins tomorrow amid intense security

Amid intense security blanket, the 15th SAARC Summit, being attended by PM Manmohan Singh, will begin in Colombo on Saturday.

world Updated: Aug 01, 2008 20:52 IST
Ajay Kaul

Amid intense security blanket, the 15th SAARC Summit, being attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will begin in Colombo on Saturday to consider a regional legal framework to tackle terrorism and other issues aimed at boosting cooperation among the countries of South Asia.

Singh arrived in Colombo on Friday to a warm welcome by the host Sri Lanka, whose Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake received him at the Bhandarnaike International Airport. A guard of honour was presented to Singh at the airport.

Amid heavy security arrangements, the Prime Minister went to the venue of the meeting from the airport in an Indian Air Force helicopter which was flanked by two other choppers.

Leaders of other member countries of the eight-nation grouping Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan -- also arrived during the day to attend the Summit on Friday.

Taking place in the backdrop of audacious attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul and series of blasts in India last week, the Summit is expected to be dominated by the theme of terrorism with Singh likely to press for cooperation by all member countries in fighting the menace collectively.

Singh is likely to pitch for a legal mechanism for effectively dealing with the menace, particularly in the wake of July 7 Kabul embassy attack, which had trans-national linkages.

The Summit will consider a proposed Agreement for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, which could not take shape at the last meet because of opposition by Pakistan to the extradition clause.

India maintains that terrorism is a common threat that needs to be dealt collectively by all the SAARC nations as crime-free atmosphere is essential for the growth of all the countries of the region.