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PM's closing remarks at 14th SAARC summit

Apr '07
Following is the text of the address of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, at the concluding session of 14th SAARC Summit here:

“It is my proud privilege to extend my profound appreciation and gratitude to your Excellencies for the immense cooperation you have all extended to me.

The Declaration adopted is comprehensive and forward-looking. It gives SAARC a wider mandate to promote peace and development in our region, including through greater connectivity – in trade, in the movement of people and through the flow of ideas.

During this Summit we had the honour of admitting Afghanistan to take its due place in the comity of SAARC. We also had the privilege of welcoming Observers for the first time. They are among our major civilisational neighbours and economic partners. This manifests our common desire for SAARC to be outward looking and engaged with the world community; to be a springboard for exploiting the vast physical and intellectual resources of South Asia.

Our Summit has agreed to operationalise the SAARC Development Fund; establish the South Asian University; create a SAARC Food Bank; and, set up the SAARC Arbitration Council. The cooperation and accommodation that have characterized our deliberations and negotiations show that our countries are ready for a transformation of SAARC into an effective instrument of regional cooperation.

The quality of our discussions in the Retreat morning gives me confidence that we can soon bring the fruits of SAARC to our people. We have agreed to make tangible progress in the next six months on four issues which affect our people's daily lives: water (including flood control), energy, food and the environment. We will work with international agencies to develop and implement viable cross-border regional projects in these four sectors, which address our people's basic needs.

We have also decided to designate the year 2008 as the 'SAARC Year of Good Governance'.

The founders of SAARC based their vision on our ancient links, our contemporary needs and our future potential. We must nurture our common roots, extend our branches of cooperation and enable the resultant fruits to reach our people. This we owe to our people. This we owe to posterity.

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