SAARC for collective action on terror

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Standing Committee — Foreign Secretaries of the eight Member-States — of the 15th SAARC Summit here on Wednesday “strongly recommended” expeditious adoption of the “U.N. draft comprehensive convention against international terrorism.”

On the concluding day of its deliberations, the committee was of the unanimous view that terrorism posed a threat to the entire region and it was time for collective measures to combat it.

At a news conference, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said the committee also finalised the text of Treaty for Mutual Assistance on criminal matters incorporating clauses pertaining to terrorism. The U.N. draft against international terrorism introduced by India has been pending approval due to lack of consensus on some aspects, including an acceptable definition of terrorism.

Mr. Kohona said the agreement on the need for adoption of the comprehensive convention against terrorism would give impetus to the U.N.’s efforts to seek an early approval of the convention. The committee finalised guidelines on greater engagement of those states that have been granted the “Observer” status for the summit.

The Foreign Ministers’ meting will begin on Thursday and are scheduled to hold bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines. It was not known if Indian and Pakistan Foreign Ministers would meet on Thursday or Friday. “We assume the Indian and Pakistan delegations would meet on the sidelines,” he said to a question.

Journalists’ meet

Sri Lanka’s Media Minister inaugurated a summit of South Asia’s journalists. Over 100 journalists gathered under the aegis of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) began deliberations on issues pertaining to media freedom in conflict situations.

The deliberation’s results would be presented to the Foreign Ministers. National organiser of SAFMA’s Sri Lanka chapter, N. M. Ameen, said the journalists would put froth recommendations to facilitate travel within the region and obtain approval for a special “Liberal Visa for Journalists.”

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