Krishna in Maldives to attend SAARC summit

Addu Atoll (Maldives): External Affairs Minister S M Krishna arrived here today on a three-day visit to Maldives for the SAARC summit during which he will also take part in bilateral meetings with other member countries including Pakistan.

Krishna, who flew down to this picturesque city from Bangalore, will attend the SAARC Foreign Minister`s meeting today where the focus is likely to be on the connectivity between the member states – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Maldives – and a host of other regional issues.

Besides attending the regional meet, Krishna will also be part of the bilateral talks to be held by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with heads of governments of other member countries. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also flying in to Maldives today for the SAARC meeting.

The issue of Most Favoured Nation trade status to India is also likely to crop up in his talks with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani and a clarity on the issue may emerge after the meetings after some sort of flip-flop on the part of Islamabad in explaining the decision.

The theme of the 17th Summit, being hosted for the third time by the Maldives, is `Building Bridges`.

Official sources said the focus of this year`s summit would be on improving the infrastructure of connectivity and trade and better people-to-people contact.

Four agreements will be inked during the SAARC summit. These will include two agreements on regional standards, one to establish a rapid response mechanism to deal with natural disasters, and another to establish a SAARC Seed Bank.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, (SAARC) was created in 1985 in Dhaka with 7 members, as an expression of the region`s collective decision to evolve a regional cooperative framework.