Pranab in Colombo for SAARC Council of Ministers meeting

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Colombo, July 31 : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived here last night to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers meeting.

Sri Lanka's Deputy Foreign Minister MK Hussain Bahila and Indian High Commissioner Alok Prasad received Mukherjee at the Colombo airport.

Although key regional economic issues are to be discussed at the ministerial level meeting, but terrorism is likely to override all other issues as most of the participating countries mainly India, Pakistan and Afghanistan have recently witnessed some of the deadliest terrorist strikes.

The meeting of the Council of Ministers will review the implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the 14th SAARC Summit in India in 2007.

During the two-day meet, the Ministers are expected to deliberate extensively on issues of urgent regional concern specially food security, energy cooperation and climate change.

The meeting will finalise the agenda for the August 2-3 SAARC Summit, which will be held under the shadow of a string of bomb blasts in India, and another at its embassy in Kabul last month.

On the margins of 15th SAARC Summit, Pranab will also hold bilateral meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Mehmood Qureshi.

The Ministerial meet is taking place in Colombo amidst tight security. The Sri Lankan Government has deployed 19,000 additional security personnel to provide protection for visiting leaders.

Elite commandos of Special Protection group have already reached here. They will give protection to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh when he arrives here on August 1.

ANI

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