SAARC seeks urgent steps to protect maritime trade, security

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Indian ship
Thimphu, Jul 22: Alarmed at potential links among piracy, terrorism and drugs trafficking in the Indian Ocean region, the eight-nation SAARC grouping today (Jul 21) sought urgent steps to combat the growing menace that can jeopardise maritime trade and security.

The escalation of piracy-related incidents in the high seas in the Indian Ocean has "posed an alarming challenge" to the countries in the region, SAARC Secretary General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed said in her inaugural address at the meeting of the grouping's Interior/Home Secretaries here.

"Ample evidence suggests the potential links between piracy and terrorism, drugs trafficking, human smuggling and related crime," she said.

Saeed said South Asia depends a lot on sea-borne trade, and maritime security was a prime concern of the member countries.

"Therefore I would like to emphasise on the urgency to initiate action to combat this growing menace before it becomes too big a threat in the maritime domain surrounding SAARC nations," she said.

The SAARC Secretary General said that since this threat was trans-national in nature, regional cooperation was the best possible method to respond to the issue. 

PTI

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