India's foreign minister is predicting that South Asian
leaders will achieve significant goals during their two-day summit in Sri Lanka
that begins Saturday.
Pranab Mukherjee says members are set to adopt a treaty aimed at combating
cross-border terrorism, during the South Asian Association of Regional
Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Colombo. He said they also plan to launch
a 300 million-dollar development fund and a South Asian University.
Trade, food security and energy shortfalls also are on the agenda.
But Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Friday criticized the
agenda, saying it falls far short of what the group should be doing.
In other news, the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers are set to meet on the
sidelines of the summit. It will be the highest-level meeting between the two
countries in 15 months.
Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors have been strained by clashes on
their disputed Kashmiri border and a bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul
in which 41 people died.
SAARC member nations include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the
Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Iran will participate at the summit for the first time. Iran was admitted as an
observer at the last summit in New Delhi.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will join the ministers or
representatives of the other five observers, including the United States,
European Union, China, Japan and South Korea.