SAARC countries sign SAFTA, protocol on terrorism | india | Hindustan Times
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SAARC countries sign SAFTA, protocol on terrorism

The member states today signed terror protocol and adopted SAFTA.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 09:48 IST

IN A NUTSHELL
 SAARC states inked many historic documents today, representing a major success of the summit. 
Achievements
Islamabad Declaration 
Protocol on terrorism: An additional protocol on terror was signed to check terror funding. 
SAFTA: The agreement provides for free trade among member states in hundreds of goods 
Information gap: SAARC pledged to bridge the digital divide by agreeing to set up an information centre in Kathmandu 
SAARC Award: It aims to encourage outstanding individuals and groups in the SAARC countries 
Social Charter 
Protocol on poverty 
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SAARC summit on Tuesday approved a far reaching document committing member countries to a series of new steps to tackle terrorism and also an agreement providing for free trade.

The historic documents representing major successes of the summit of seven SAARC countries were signed by Foreign Ministers in the presence of their heads of state and government, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The leaders also adopted the Islamabad Declaration for the SAARC summit.

The leaders also adopted a protocol on elimination of poverty and signed a social charter.

Thanking the Foreign Ministers and officials, Pakistan Prime Minister and SAARC Chairman Zafarullah Khan Jamali said SAFTA was a historic milestone towards greater economic co-operation among SAARC countries--India, Pakistan Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

He said it was a great accomplishment. "I wish to pay tribute to ministers and officials" for this.

On the Additional Protocol on terrorism, Jamali said it showed the determination of SAARC nations to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations from the region.

Pointing out that peace was a pre-requisite for socio-economic development of the region, Jamali said SAARC was committed to fostering good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation.

The Summit succeeded in reinvigorating regional cooperation as it made "good progress" towards South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and signed the SAFTA.

"These are watershed developments and will go a long way in economic cooperation among the countries of the region," he said.

The Pakistan Prime Minister said the signing of additional protocol on terrorism was a landmark development towards elimination of the menace of terrorism from the region.

He said all SAARC countries were committed to "promotion of meaningful cooperation."

"We believe in close cooperation, coordination and consultation," Jamali said, adding, the member countries were committed to carry forward the SAARC process.

By signing the Social Charter, he said the SAARC countries have committed themselves to collective responsibility towards seeking better future for the region.

On behalf of the SAARC member states, Bangladesh Premier Begum Khaleda Zia said the summit has been a "key watershed" in enhancing cooperation among the nations of South Asia.

She said the conference helped in advancing towards the realisation of the SAFTA, added a new thrust to poverty reduction programmes and provided a roadmap for concrete action in this direction.

The Bangladesh Premier said signing of the Social Charter at the summit would go a long way in highlighting the social mandate and reaffirmed the commitment to strengthen and explore new avenues in regional cooperation.

Zia lauded the "spirit of accommodation" shown by the heads of states and governments and all other participants during the three-day conference. The Retreat provided an opportunity to exchange views in a relaxed atmosphere, she said.

Congratulating the Pakistan Government for successfully hosting the summit in a befitting manner, the Bangladesh Premier also thanked the member nations for selecting Dhaka as the venue for the 13th SAARC Summit in January next year.

Following her speech, Jamali, as the Chairman of the 12th Summit, declared the conference closed.