New Delhi, Jul 31 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today stressed the importance of cooperation among SAARC countries to address various challenges facing the region, including terrorism, and expressed confidence that the 15th Summit in Colombo on August 2-3 would provide impetus to many decisions already taken by the eight member States.
In a statement on the eve of his departure to Colombo for attending the Summit, the Prime Minister said during the 23 years since SAARC was established, the South Asian region had traversed a long distance.
''Today, there is a realization amongst SAARC countries that it is only by cooperating within SAARC that we will be able to strengthen ourselves individually and as a region and address the many common challenges that face us,'' he said in his statement.
The Prime Minister said at the 14th SAARC Summit in New Delhi, it had been agreed to move SAARC from declaratory to implementation phase.
As part of this approach, several initiatives had been taken, notably the establishment of the SAARC Development Fund, the SAARC Food Bank, the proposal to establish a South Asian University, SAFTA and greater people-to-people contacts.
''I am confident that the forthcoming Summit will consolidate these gains and provide an impetus to the implementation of the many decisions that are in place,'' he added.
The Prime Minister, who will leave for Colombo tomorrow morning, said he looked forward to holding discussions with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on India's relations with Sri Lanka.
He also looked forward to holding bilateral meetings with the other leaders of the SAARC countries, the Prime Minister added..
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