PM Nawaz Sharif calls for a dispute-free South Asia

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for a dispute-free South Asia in order to wage a joint fight against poverty, illiteracy, disease and unemployment.

Addressing the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu on Wednesday, he said the regional countries should build on convergences and minimize divergences for the mutual good of their people.

The Prime Minister noted that SAARC forum can contribute immensely towards building a trust surplus amongst member countries. Interfaith and inter religion harmony must find special emphasis in its programs.

Nawaz Sharif said we should build on our inherent strengths and effectively address common issues such as socio economic disparities, poverty alleviation, women empowerment, health and education. We must place the welfare of our peoples at the forefront. This, he said, requires close cooperation at national and regional levels.

The Prime Minister said all South Asian states are vibrant democracies. He hoped old and new democracies in the region will join hands to make it peaceful and prosperous.

He said we should invest in our youth to unleash their talent, creativity and enterprise.

Terming the theme of the conference as the most appropriate in the current scenario, the Prime Minister said deeper integration for peace and prosperity is most appropriate and reflects our common desire for promoting mutual understanding on all issues.

He said the regional countries should also pay special attention towards rural development, expansion of agriculture resource base, development of action plans to combat communicable diseases and development of information and communication technologies.

He said the recent monsoon rains raised the importance of regional cooperation on cross border information sharing and early flood forecasting systems as human induced and natural disasters affect everybody.

Nawaz Sharif pointed out that South Asia has abundant energy resources. We need to collectively focus on harnessing indigenous energy production potential.

We should also consolidate arrangements for trans-regional oil and gas pipelines.

Highlighting the geo strategic significance of Pakistan, the prime minister said Pakistan has the potential to integrate South Asia, China and Central Asia. Soft visa regimes would greatly facilitate the realization of these objectives.

Addressing the Summit, Afghan President, Dr Ashraf Ghani stressed the need for cooperation instead of confrontation among the member countries.

He said that close relations are essential for establishment of peace in the region.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif alsp offered to host the next SAARC Summit in Islamabad.

In his remarks, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the regional countries should work together to combat terrorism.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed said SAARC food bank and seed bank should be established to ensure food security in the region

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa underscored the need for SAARC to address the widening disparity between rich and poor, rural and the urban dwellers and create a vibrant economy in the region.

In his remarks, Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala stressed the need of strong regional cooperation to tap the full potentials of South Asia

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