Islamabad, Feb 1: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has appealed to all eight member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate terrorism and extremism across the region.
Interacting with visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama at President's Camp Office in Rawalpindi here on Thursday, Musharraf said SAARC countries, which include India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan and Pakistan - would have to devise a joint strategy to overcome the challenges faced by the region.
Musharraf also expressed support for Colombo's efforts in its fight against terrorism and appreciated the principled position adopted by it against the suspension of Pakistan's membership of the Commonwealth following the imposition of emergency rule on November 3, 2007.
He hoped that the Commonwealth would adopt a more realistic appreciation of the steps taken by Pakistan for the consolidation of democracy.
According to the Daily Times, Bogollagama said his country hoped that Pakistan would be able to restore democracy through the forthcoming polls. He said stability in Pakistan was important to the entire region.
Bogollagama also met his Pakistani counterpart Inamul Haq and briefed the latter on the latest developments in Sri Lanka, including the efforts of the Lankan government to fight terrorism.
Haq expressed support for the efforts of Sri Lanka for the consolidation of peace and preservation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Both foreign ministers also reviewed the progress made for trade and economic cooperation following the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to achieve the target of one billion dollars through bilateral trade in the next few years.
The Lankan minister also revealed that Pakistan had shown interest in oil exploration in Sri Lanka and for greater people-to-people contact through the medium of religious tourism.
Bogollagama also paid courtesy calls on caretaker Prime Minister Mohamadmian Soomro and former premier Nawaz Sharif.