Gilani, Bhutanese PM discuss regional issues SAARC Summit opens today

Jalil Afridi

ADDU: Prime Minister of Bhutan Jigme Y. Thinley here on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the 17th SAARC summit.The two leaders discussed regional issues and promotion of bilateral cooperation in various fields.On his arrival the Prime Minister was accorded a red carpet welcome when he alighted from a special plane.He was received at the Gan International Airport by President of Maldives Mohammad Nasheed and other officials. He was presented a bouquet by two small children and national anthems of the two countries were played.Earlier talking to mediamen at Lahore airport before his departure for Maldives to attend 17th SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) conference Prime Minister  Gilani said importance and effectiveness of SAARC forum had increased, following the ongoing process of dialogue between Pakistan and India. The Prime Minister said the SAARC had earlier been losing its effectiveness and could not move forward due to tense ralations between the two major countries of the South Asia. The SAARC forum’s value and importance has now increased manifold since Islamabad and New Delhi started discussing their mutual disputes on the dialogue table, he added.He said “Naturally, Pakistan and India have a dialogue procedure under which everything is going in the right direction.”The PPP-led elected democratic government has been giving significance to the SAAR forum, he said, citing, “I have never missed any SAAR Conference, since I became the Prime Minister.”Gilani said the commencement of 17th SAARC Conference showed that there was the determination and will among the member states to work together for the betterment of the region.On a question, he said, “We will definitely focus on the Conference’s theme ‘Building the Bridges’ by discussing all possible ways and means for mutual cooperation through rail, road and sea route.”The Prime Minister said said on the sidelines of the Conference, he would meet the Presidents of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and the Prime Ministers of India, Bhutan and Nepal, and the SAARC Secretary General.The 17th SAARC Summit will start here on Thursday in Addu City, a beautiful small Island of Maldives in its south region, which will be attended by the heads of states and governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.