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Leading News from Sri Lanka::

* SAARC summit concludes pledging to boost regional ties and rout out terrorism
Fri, Apr 30, 2010, 12:28 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 29, Thimpu: The 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference in the Bhutanese capital of Thimpu concluded today with the participants pledging to increase the trade and regional corporation and eliminate terrorism from the region.

During the two-day summit leaders of eight South Asian nations including Sri Lanka intensely deliberated on significant issues that affect the region including climate change, security and stability, trade, energy and food security.

The summit commenced yesterday with Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa handing over the Chairmanship of SAARC to Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley.

Addressing the summit, President Rajapaksa told the leaders of the South Asian nations that the SAARC cannot progress in isolation and called to strengthen the means for practical engagement with the SAARC Observer States and with selected International Organisations in particular, for the development efforts in the region.

The leaders of Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal also discussed poverty-alleviation and disaster management and especially focused on the climate change that is affecting the member countries.

The Summit issued a declaration 'Towards a Green and Happy South Asia' spelling out measures to bring about overall development of the region including reforestation campaign to plant 10 million trees over the next five years.

Sri Lankan President observed that the developed world should now bear the lion's share of the burden to mitigate the phenomenon of climate change affecting the region.

The leaders strongly condemned the terrorism in the region and vowed to work towards to uphold peace, security, and stability in the region and build regional strength. They praised Sri Lanka for its success on eradicating terrorism from its soil while maintaining a healthy economic growth.

The participants acknowledging the lack of progress in the organization despite its 25 –year history agreed to shed differences and make the association more effective.

The most significant development was the discussion between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani that took place on the sidelines of the summit.

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