Colombo, October 7 (NIA): Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said that the war against terrorism must unite members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and divide them.
Speaking in parliament on Friday on the postponed 19 th. SAARC summit which was to be held in Pakistan on November 9 nd 10, Samaraweera said that SAARC cannot function as it should in the absence of mutual confidence and trust and hinted that cross border terrorism is a cause of discord in the organization, without naming any country.
“Terrorism is an issue that must unite our region, not divide our region. It is a menace that has taken a heavy toll on the economic and social fabric of almost all our countries. Terrorism poses an existential threat to the civilized world, and it must be defeated. Sri Lanka has always been firm in denouncing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, irrespective of where it occurs, and Sri Lanka supports decisive action in dealing with terrorism,” Samaraweera said.
“It is time that our region united in its resolve to eliminate this scourge. All the leaders of South Asia must unite and take a firm stand and decisive action to eliminate terrorism which stands as an obstacle to the achievement of the goals that we envision for our region,” he added.
The Minister corrected the impression in the minds of opposition leaders and the media that Sri Lanka boycotted the summit at the instance of India.
“As the Members of this House are aware, the General Provisions of the Charter of SAARC prescribes that “decisions at all levels shall be taken on the basis of unanimity”. Therefore, the moment one country says that they are unable to attend a SAARC Summit, a Summit cannot be held. There was, therefore, no question of Sri Lanka pulling out of SAARC, or Sri Lanka saying that we will not attend the Summit, as there was no Summit to attend.” Samaraweera pointed out.
“Sri Lanka issued a statement after several countries had informed the current Chair of SAARC, Nepal, formally, that they are unable to attend the Summit, and after the Chair, that is Nepal, issued a Statement as well.”
“In our statement, we expressed regret that the prevailing environment in the region, with several countries having stated their inability to attend the Summit, is not conducive for holding the Summit on the 9th and 10th of November, and we expressed hope that the steps required to ensuring our region’s peace and security will be taken to create an environment that is conducive for the pursuit of regional cooperation,” he recalled.
“The people of this region of South Asia deserve better living standards, better infrastructure, better education, peace, prosperity, security, and friendship; and we must not fail them,” the Foreign Minister said.
“It is my solemn hope, Hon. Speaker, that this would be the moment that all the leaders in our region resolve to forget past failures, break with the past, and unite in good faith and in sincerity to work together for the greater good and greater benefit of the people of our region,” Samaraweera said.
Sri Lanka would be ready to attend the postponed 19 th. SAARC summit whenever it is held, the Minister said.