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SAARC focus on food, terrorism

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The 15th SAARC Summit, scheduled for August 2 and 3, would come out with a declaration on “food security” and deliberate on the “collective action on modalities of dealing with menace of terrorism.”

The Standing Committee of the summit, comprising Foreign Secretaries of the eight Member-States, on the opening day of its two-day meeting on Tuesday agreed on the need for separate declaration on food security in the context of rising food costs and shortages experienced by the region.

Sri Lankan Minister for Export Development and International Development G.L. Peris told a news conference here the threat posed by terrorism in South Asia was a dominant issue before the summit and the leaders would discuss ways and means to collectively deal with it.

Sri Lankan Additional Secretary to the Foreign Ministry and summit spokesperson, Prasad Kariyawasam, said the details of the declaration were still being discussed.

Colombo has proposed a food security fund and maintenance of buffer stocks by the SAARC to aid countries faced with shortages.

Other issues to be placed on the agenda of the Heads of State Summit included joint measures to combat terrorism, poverty alleviation and greater involvement of countries conferred with the status of observers.

The proceedings of the Committee were opened by Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. Subsequently, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona was elected its Chairman. The meeting of the Foreign Ministers will be held on July 31 and August 1.

Mr. Kariyawasam said the summit would be “turning a new corner and leap forward from declaratory stages to implementation stages.”

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