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Home > News > PTI

PM to 'interact' with hosts

January 03, 2004 17:55 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Saturday said he would hold bilateral meetings with other South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation leaders besides interacting with his Pakistani hosts.

"I hope all discussions, bilateral and regional, would proceed in the spirit of friendship, cooperation and good neighbourliness," Vajpayee said in a statement before leaving for Islamabad to attend the SAARC summit, which begins on January 4.

The SAARC summit: The Complete Coverage

The PM said many issues of regional cooperation, "which are at a stage from which significant progress could be expected, if we show the political will and a coordinated approach", would be dealt with at the summit.

Promotion of intra-regional trade and eventually a Free Trade Area within SAARC would be discussed, he said. "There are some significant recommendations for regional poverty alleviation programmes within SAARC. We have been able to agree on a Social Charter, which will hopefully further our objective of reaching the Millennium Development Goals in our region," Vajpayee said.

He said SAARC had been having discussions about updating the 1987 Convention Against Terrorism "so that we can cooperate more effectively in tackling this menace".

"If we achieve progress in all these areas we can move closer towards realising the enormous potential for economic, social and cultural cooperation within SAARC," Vajpayee said.

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