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SAARC focus on disaster management

From Ranil Wijayapala in Dahaka, Bangladesh

The 13th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation began here in Dhaka with the leaders of seven countries giving leadership to one fifth of world population emphasising the urgent need for their deep committment to ensure the South Asian Freed Trade Area Agreement come into force in January next year and for evolving effective system on disaster managment, combatting of terrorism and alleviating poverty in the region.

The seven SAARC nation leaders addressed the inaugural session of the 13th SAARC which was differed twice earlier as it came to a reality yesterday at the Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Centre in Dhaka.

Lyonpo Sangaya Ngedup, Prime Minister of Bhutan, Shaukat Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Gayendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev the King of Nepal,Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India,m Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Maldives, and President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga addressed the 13th SAARC summit under the Chairmanship of Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who Chaired the 12th SAARC summit in Islamabad the handed over the Chairmanship of the SAARC nations to Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia at the 13th SAARC summit.

The leaders of SAARC nations, as they meets in the aftermath of two natural disasters which claimed thousands of lives in the region, emphasised the need for better mkechanism to deal with natural disasters.

All the leaders were united in calling a collectinve action by the seven SAARC countries to effectively face human tragedies in the form tsunamis and earthquakes that hit the region within the past one year.

Indian Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh laid a solid footage for the regions attempts to combat terrorism saying that 'no member country should allow its territory to be used against the interests of another member country'.

"There should be zero tolerance for cross-border terrorism and for the harbouring of hostile insurgent groups and criminal elements", Indian Premier Dr. Manmohan Singh said.

The Prime Minister of Nepal also emphasised the need to liberate the region from the clutches of terrorism as his country has been the victim of senseless terrorism for nearly a decade.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Kaleeda Zia proposed that Summit proclaim the coming decade from 2006 to 2015 as the SAARC Decade for Poverty Alleviation.

The leaders of SAARC nations awarded the first ever SAARC award posthumously to late Ziaur Rahman one of the founders behind visionary of SAARC as the summit returned to its birth place after 20 years.

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