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Tackle smaller SAARC issues first: experts

world Updated: Apr 01, 2009 11:16 IST

IANS
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South Asian experts who are meeting here have suggested that to quicken the pace of regional cooperation, countries should take up 'smaller' issues before taking up bigger, more difficult ones.

It was necessary to begin modestly to counter the mutual mistrust among member-nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), they said.

Politicians, parliamentarians, economists and academics also expressed the fear that the rise in militancy would affect regional cooperation.

"Issues like regional common currency, customs union, connectivity and visa are big and difficult," said Bangladesh Finance Minister AMA Muhith while opening the two-day conference in Dhaka on Tuesday.

"We can start with something smaller... We should focus on the activities of the regional bodies concerned with agriculture, water resources and transportation," New Age newspaper quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

Muhith said these bodies could "accelerate and enlarge regional cooperation amidst the prevailing political mistrust".

The two-day conference titled Regional Conference on Inclusive Development and Climate Justice in South Asia is being organised by the Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad.

It is being attended by delegates from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

Bangladesh lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon underlined the need to remove the mistrust which was blocking regional socio-cultural and economic development.

Menon said: "Unfortunately there is widespread mutual mistrust among the South Asian countries."

Referring to climate change and its adverse effects, Menon said poor countries like Bangladesh are not responsible for global warming but they are paying the penalty.