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Morshed for jt efforts to address core economic issues, terrorism

          The 13th SAARC summit will allow the South Asian leaders to have a fresh look at comprehensive SAARC agenda and to initiate actions for tangible improvement in the life of 1.5 billion people of the South Asian countries.
Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan said this to the press at the Foreign Ministry in the city Tuesday, reports UNB.
He called for collective efforts to address the core economic issues and internal challenges of regional dimensions.
He expressed the hope that the South Asian nations at their summit meet in Dhaka would devise means to add impetus to poverty-alleviation drives, cooperation in core economic areas and their latest combat against terrorism
Describing terrorism as a new challenge confronting the countries in the region, Khan said the 13th SAARC summit would also provide a very timely opportunity to "revisit the issue" with a "fine-tune SAARC response" to this major problem.
"Combating terrorism is a task that South Asia needs to pursue relentlessly. This issue has been in the international and regional spotlight for very compelling reasons," Khan said.
At the curtain-raiser briefing, with Dhaka having dressed the part as host of the twice-postponed meet, he said regional cooperation in South Asia is today not only necessary to safeguard the South Asian interests in globalised world but also to address the challenges internal to South Asia as a region.
On alleviation of poverty--also now part of a global fight--he said a number of important proposals are on the table and the summit leaders would give their due consideration to them.
About implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement signed at the last summit in Islamabad, the FM said although preparatory work on the SAFTA progressed substantially, some few outstanding issues remained to be sorted out.
He expressed the hope that the Dhaka summit would give concrete guidance towards addressing the outstanding issues so it could be executed on January 1, 2006, as scheduled.
The foreign minister said a few important agreements are ready for signing during the two-day summit, beginning Saturday.
The meet would also concentrate on how to increase the capability of dealing with natural disasters and their aftermath as well as address social issues like education, women empowerment, child and health issues where regional cooperation would be helpful.
" I believe that all the seven SAARC countries realise that now is the time to act--and they will have the opportunity during the 13th SAARC summit to come up with a blueprint of cooperation for a new decade and new era for all SAARC countries," Khan told the journalists.
Asked about the necessity of funds for executing future SAARC projects, Khan said for lack of modalities the South Asian Development Fund (SADF) of $5 million could not be utilised.
Besides, several member-countries made commitment to provide funds for poverty alleviation, he said.
He expressed the hope that the summit would take decision on how fund could be raised and spent.
About an additional protocol to the SAARC convention on suppression of terrorism, Khan said the 13th summit would finalise the modality for applying this weapon to combat terrorism-a global syndrome of the present times that posed a threat for the South Asian nations as well.
" Every country in the world is facing terrorism-the USA, European countries, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan," he said. "No country can tackle it individually--it needs collective efforts, regionally and internationally, to combat it."
Khan said Bangladesh has ratified 12 UN anti-terrorism UN Conventions, true to her commitment to combat this oncoming menace.
The foreign minister ruled out the possibility of amending the SAARC charter at this summit, saying that the charter vests in all the seven South Asian leaders the responsibility of making collective and unanimous decisions for the welfare of the people.
About implementation of the SAFTA deal, Khan renewed his doubts about its implementation on schedule as he said it might take some more time to complete negotiations on a few more outstanding points.


RIGOROUS REHEARSAL: Law enforcers are seen dress-rehearsing various security events Tuesday in front of the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre, one of the main venues of the upcoming SAARC summit. — FE Photo
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