News

Significant Milestones Promised at S. Asia Regional Summit

Multimedia

Audio

India's foreign minister says South Asian heads of government will achieve several significant milestones during their two-day summit, including a legal assistance treaty intended to combat cross-border terrorism. But Pakistan's foreign minister, in a rare criticism from a top official of a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, says the agenda falls far short of what the group should be doing. VOA correspondent Steve Herman in Colombo has details.

Ministers of the eight countries composing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation say they have a tremendous responsibility as they represent more than 20 percent of the world's population. They also note their people compose 40 percent of those living in poverty on the planet and they need to do for in terms of food security, energy resources and reducing poverty.

Seeking to shed its image as a forum for talking but lacking in action, heads of government during the summit Saturday and Sunday here are set to adopt what Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee terms four important frameworks.

"Mutual legal aid treaty amongst all SAARC countries, launching a SAARC development fund, having uniform standards [and] having a SAARC university - South Asian University," he said. "These we we're talking of for quite some time but now these are going to be the reality."

The legal assistance pact would set up a system to share information about criminals to combat regional terrorism. The development fund is aimed at fighting poverty and is to total $300 million. The uniform product standards would hopefully boost the still anemic level of cross-border trade among SAARC members. And the new higher education institute, with an international faculty, is touted to open in 2010 in New Delhi with 5,000 students.

Compared to what SAARC has achieved since the first summit in 1985, these would be significant achievements. But Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is clearly impatient with SAARC's pace for the early 21st century.

"SAARC represents 1.5 billion people of Asia," he said. "It's an important organization of Asia. Are we ready for that challenge? Is the spirit of SAARC reflecting the challenge of a new era? In my opinion, no."

Besides India and Pakistan and this year's host Sri Lanka, SAARC is composed of Afghanistan (which is the group's newest member), Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal.

Summit agendas are frequently overshadowed by the sidelines meetings in which the heads of government, many of which do not enjoy warm mutual relations, get a rare opportunity to speak privately. This year is no exception with the spotlight again on how the leaders of India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars in 60 years, will interact.

 

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs