Chidambaram expresses concern over increasing terror threat to SAARC region

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Islamabad, June 26 (ANI): Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday expressed concern over increasing instances of terrorism in the South-Asian region and said it not only poses a major challenge to the maintenance of peace and security but also affects development.

Addressing the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Interior Ministers' Conference here, Chidambaram sought fullest cooperation among SAARC countries in sharing information on potential terrorists and planned acts of terrorism to create a more secure environment in the region.

"The increasing threat of terrorism poses a major challenge to the maintenance of peace and security and adversely affects economic development in our region," Chidambaram said.

Interior and Home Ministers of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives are attending the conference.

In his address, Chidambaram expressed concern over increasing threat to the security of the region.

"We can all undoubtedly agree that the South Asian region is faced with a serious security situation," he said.

"We also need to cooperate with each other in sharing information on potential terrorists and planned acts of terrorism, and all other forms of criminal activities in order to create more secure environment," Chidambaram added.

He said the Interior Ministers of SAARC countries have a major responsibility in ensuring that regional cooperation in meeting the challenges posed by terrorism, arms smuggling, fake currency, drug and human trafficking.

Chidambaram stressed on the need to work to create an environment conducive to greater connectivity, accelerated progress and development in the region.

He urged the member countries to begin the implementation of SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters signed in August 2008.

"Its implementation will not only contribute to the creation of a more secure environment in the region, it would also represent a concrete manifestation of the region's determination to address the common and pressing security concerns before it," Chidambaram said.

In his address, Chidambaram underlined the need for the early conclusion of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Chidambaram also announced that India would be hosting a meeting of High Level Group of Eminent Experts to Strengthen SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism as recommended by the grouping.

The meeting is expected to be held in New Delhi in January 2011.

Chidambaram reiterated India's commitment to discharge its responsibilities within SAARC in a non-reciprocal manner and said New Delhi will continue to offer assistance to member countries in the areas of criminal investigation, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, cyber crime, economic offences and bank fraud cases. (ANI)

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