Vol. 4 Num 218 Mon. January 05, 2004  

Chandrika says
Thaw in Indo-Pak ties impetus for SAARC

Sri Lanka yesterday said the reduction of tension between India and Pakistan has provided renewed impetus to regional Association for economic development.

"Reduction of tension between the two larger states in our region gives us great strength", President Chandrika Kumaratunga said in her address to the 12th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit here.

"We should be able to overcome disputes and create an atmosphere of trust," she said while complimenting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his statements that Saarc nations should put aside their differences and continue to strengthen mutual cooperation.

Stressing the need for increased regional cooperation, she warned the member nations that globalisation could lead to their marginalisation in the world economic arena.

In this context, she pointed out that intra-Saarc trade constituted about five per cent of the total trade of the nations as compared to 35 per cent Saarc nations had with Asean nations and lamented that the tremendous potential of the Saarc nations was "no where near realisation".

While welcoming the agreement on Safta, she called for strengthening of communication, transportation and economic links and elimination of non-tariff barriers, besides steps to remove poverty, illiteracy and provide good healthcare to the people of the region.