SAARC meet to discuss fund to manage food crisis

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: A fund to manage food crisis and mechanisms to augment resources in the region to tackle the situation arising out of the fuel price hike are to come up for consideration at the SAARC Summit scheduled here on August 2 and 3.

At a press conference here on the forthcoming Summit, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogallagama said the issues related to hike in food and fuel crisis would be taken up by the SAARC leaders in the light of the recent experiences in the region.

On the fund to help states faced with food crisis, the Minister said at the moment he was not in a position to outline the exact nature of the fund and the mechanisms to enable member states to make use of the fund and the buffer stocks proposed to be built.

The Minister said the theme of the Summit is "Partnership for our people as a sequel to the 14th Summit theme "Connectivity in the region held in New Delhi last year. Mr. Bogollagama said a treaty on mutual legal assistance incorporating areas related to cooperation on fighting terrorism is expected to be signed.

The SAARC Regional Convention of Suppression of Terrorism was signed during the Third SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 1987 recognising dangers posed by the spread of terrorism and its harmful effects on peace and cooperation and also the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the States.

It came into force in August 1988 and later, an Additional Protocol to this Convention was signed during the 12th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in January 2004. This Additional Protocol updates the Convention by adding terrorist financing and has been ratified by all Member-States.

Though it was the turn of Maldives, Sri Lanka is hosting the 15th Conferenceof the SAARC after obtaining consent of all member states from July 27 toAugust 3 to coincide with her sixtieth anniversary of independence whichfell on February 4, 2008.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa would inaugurate the Summit on August2. The Heads of State or government of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan will attend the Summit.

China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mauritius and theUnited States of America will participate as Observers. The representationsfrom Australia and Myanmar for observer status in the SAARC would beconsidered at the Summit.

In the run up to the SAARC Summit, the programming committee consisting ofsenior officials from SAARC countries would meet here to draw up the agendaon July 27 and 28. The Standing Committee consisting of Foreign Secretarieswould meet on July 29 and 30. It would be followed by a two-day meeting ofForeign Ministers on July 31 and August 1.

The two-day SAARC Summit, with a retreat on the second day, would alsoprovide an opportunity to the heads of the state for bilateral meetings onthe sidelines with their counterparts.

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