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South Asian summit considers terrorism pact

world Updated: Aug 03, 2008 11:01 IST
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Heads of government from eight south Asian countries resume a summit in Sri Lanka on Sunday, aiming to foster regional cooperation in combatting terrorism and food security.

However, accusations that elements of Pakistan's intelligence service helped a militant group bomb India's embassy in Afghanistan cast a cloud over the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation conference.

"Terrorism and its sanctuaries are gaining a greater grip in Pakistan," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a speech at the start of the two-day summit. He said terrorists in Pakistan were getting "institutionalized nurturing and support." He said Afghanistan was the worst victim of international terrorism.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the recent attack on his country's embassy in Kabul and a string of bombings in Indian cities "are gruesome reminders of the barbarity that still finds a place in South Asia."

"It remains the single biggest threat to our stability," he said.

The summit, which concludes Sunday, is expected to approve an agreement on tackling terrorism, including freezing funds used for attacks, as well as the creation of a regional development fund and a food bank to cope with shortages triggered by rising prices.

The summit is being attended by leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, representing one-fifth of the world's population. SAARC was set up in 1985 to promote economic cooperation, but progress in most areas has been slow, mainly because of the rivalry between India and Pakistan, and it has often been derided as little more than a talking shop.