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SAARC should help create understanding, cooperation: Pak

November 08, 2011 12:18 IST
Pakistan has said disputes, which are holding back regional cooperation must be resolved and the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation should help create amity, understanding and cooperation on the basis of "enlightened self-interest of the peoples" of South Asia.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir made the remarks while addressing a meeting of the Standing Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation held at Addu Atoll in the Maldives on Monday.

"It was important that differences and disputes that had held back regional cooperation must be resolved. The conference theme of 'Building Bridges' should help create amity, understanding and cooperation on the basis of enlightened self interest of the peoples of the region," Bashir was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Foreign Office.

Pakistan believes SAARC "must lead the way and act as a catalyst for South Asia's socio-economic transformation," he said. The economic potential of South Asia is enormous and the region "must endeavour to become an important pillar for global economic growth," he said.

Bashir represented Pakistan at the meeting of SAARC foreign secretaries that was held ahead of a Summit of the grouping. He reiterated Pakistan's commitment to regional cooperation under SAARC. He said the world was interested in SAARC and Pakistan supports "greater interaction with extra regional states and organisations". SAARC should consider establishing a dialogue partnership with interested states, Bashir added.

Pakistan welcomed China's interest in an "interactive partnership" with SAARC and suggested that a moratorium on expansion of observers should be lifted. Pakistan also supported Turkey's request for becoming an observer, he said.

Backing the concept of regional energy cooperation, Bashir also endorsed SAARC initiatives to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation in agriculture, food security, poverty alleviation, climate change and trade.

The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are expected to meet on the sidelines of the conference on Tuesday. The prime ministers of the two countries are also expected to meet on the margins of the summit that begins on November 10.


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