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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
South Asian leaders hold summit
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

Saarc meeting on 30 March
The summit is expected to deal with trade and terrorism
Leaders of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) are meeting in the Indian capital, Delhi, as part of a regional summit.

On the agenda is fighting terrorism, but also improving trade links within the region.

Previous summits have suffered because of the rivalry between India and Pakistan but improved relations between them is seen as a hopeful sign.

The theme for this year's south Asian regional summit is connectivity.

Infrastructure pledge

For a region that is home to one-fifth of the world's population with strong historical and cultural links, trade and transport ties between them are astonishingly poor.

Despite a regional free trade agreement that came into effect last year, commercial transactions between these countries make up a mere 5% of their GDP, compared to 35% for the European Union.

So the leaders of the eight countries that make up the region, with new entrant Afghanistan, will pledge to improve communication and economic links by improving infrastructure.

But a major talking point will also be terrorism - Sri Lanka is keen to raise the issue after a recent increase in attacks by the Tamil Tigers.

The other key decision will be to admit Iran as an observer to the group, a move sure to annoy the United States which is also attending the summit in a similar capacity.




SEE ALSO
South Asia group postpones talks
02 Feb 05 |  South Asia
India team assesses Saarc risks
01 Feb 05 |  South Asia
New date set for South Asia forum
14 Jan 05 |  South Asia

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