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Terrorism on Agenda at South Asian Summit

India is calling for action to be taken against terrorism by its fellow members in a South Asian regional group. VOA's Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

Indian officials want members of the South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, to issue a "very strong" statement on terrorism at the group's annual summit this week.

Foreign ministers from eight SAARC countries met here Monday to discuss terrorism and other issues of concern.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon says the summit is an opportunity for member states to pledge further action against terrorism.

"Every possibility is open. It's for every country to suggest what it thinks is needed," he said. " And we will happily, I think, look at these ideas. Any idea that helps to counter terrorism, that helps us to eliminate terrorism, I think, should be welcomed."

The heads of the SAARC governments begin their two-day session Tuesday.

The group has issued declarations on terrorism since 1987 - two years after it was inaugurated. But they have had limited results. SAARC 10 years ago established a Terrorist Offenses Monitoring Desk in the Sri Lankan capital, but the organization acknowledges the operation in Colombo is still not "fully functional" due to a lack of funding.

Almost all of the member nations have been repeatedly targeted by terrorists, including SAARC's newest entry, Afghanistan.

In addition to host India, the other SAARC members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

For the first time, outside observers will be present at this year's summit. China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea and the United States will have officials participating in the opening and closing sessions, as well as many of the ministerial meetings.