Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Foreign Advisor of Bangladesh caretaker government Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury has called upon the SAARC member countries to bring down tariff barriers to trading.

He also said ‘special consideration’ should be given to those SAARC nations who are the least developed countries.

The foreign advisor made the appeal during a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers held on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session in New York on Monday, local media reported quoting a message received in the capital, Dhaka on Wednesday.

The advisor said: “We would like to see the implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) in letter and spirit. The major barrier to effective trade liberalization in the region is the list of sensitive items. We call for early action in reduction of this list and the removal of all trade barriers. “

Dr Chowdhury told the SAARC ministers that in pursuit of regional cooperation in development, the SAARC countries should be mindful of the ‘larger concerns of environment and sustainable development’.

He noted that the SAARC ministerial meeting on Climate Change resulted in a solid and workable Action Plan which must be implemented. “Recent devastations like Sidr and Nargis constantly remind us of our vulnerabilities,” he said.

The advisor conveyed his “deep sorrow” to Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee regarding the bombing incidents that occurred in India on that very day. “Bangladesh condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

Dr. Chowdhury called for a “balanced approach” in SAARC on all the regional issues. In this connection, he mentioned “social development, including poverty alleviation, economic cooperation, agriculture, environment, disaster management, security concerns and people-to-people connectivity.”

The SAARC ministerial meeting was chaired by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama. Sri Lanka is the current chair of SAARC having hosted the last Summit.

BBN/SS/SS/AD-02October08-4:00 AM (BST)