Terrorism: agenda for SAARC home ministers

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Fight against terrorism will be the top agenda at the meeting of home ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) scheduled for September 17-19 in Kathmandu.

The sixth SAARC home ministerial meeting being held just two months ahead of the 18th SAARC Summit will assess regional security situation in view of the renewed security threats and work out a common strategy to deal with the challenges ahead. Home ministers from all eight SAARC member states have conveyed that they would attend the meeting, Nepalese media reported.

Nepalese government officials involved in the preparation of the regional meeting in Kathmandu said measures to tackle the menace of terrorism in South Asian region will top the agenda of the regional meeting although issues such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, small arms and counterfeit currency smuggling and mutual legal assistance will also figure in the meeting.

The meeting will be held at three levels, starting with a meeting of joint secretaries, who head the Department of Immigration in their respective countries, on September 17. Home secretary-level meeting will be held on September 18. The meeting will conclude after home ministers of all member states endorse the decisions taken at the level of home secretaries on September 19.

The SAARC home ministers meeting this time assumes a special significance as Al-Qaeda terrorist group recently announced a new branch in the Indian subcontinent.

Five similar meetings have already taken place in various countries including in India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Maldives after the 13th SAARC Summit held in Dhaka, Bangladesh decided that the SAARC home ministers meet annually to strengthen cooperation among member states to tackle security challenges seen in the region.

SAARC adopted a Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism in 1987 and signed an Additional Protocol in 2001 to jointly fight against the menace of terrorism in South Asia.

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