27 Feb :Asking SAARC member states not to shy away from "firm and forceful action" against terrorism, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday said the countries in the region need to re-double their efforts to fight the scourge.
"We need to re-double our efforts to combat this menace individually and collectively. We cannot shy away from taking firm and forceful action to combat terrorism, including internationally," Rajapaksa said addressing the SAARC Foreign Ministers Conference in Colombo.
The President, whose forces are on the brink of totally defeating LTTE, said efforts should be made to ensure that no one suffers due to brutal attacks by terrorists in the region.
"Our societies bear the brunt of the evil force of terrorism. But, we cannot and should not allow even a single citizen of South Asia to suffer as a result of the brutal violence unleashed by terrorists".
"We, among other measures, should uphold democracy, support each other’s democracies and make it a vehicle towards defeating terrorism," Rajapaksa said.
Seeking "innovative action" against terrorism, he said "our rich cultures cannot be allowed to be riddled by the curse of terrorism."
Rajapaksa hoped the SAARC ministerial meet will be able to give further direction "on this important current issue for people in this region."
On the global economic slowdown, Rajapaksa said it could be viewed as a threat as grave as terrorism to the societies in the region.
"The instability caused by (the global financial) crisis can be considered quite similar to the threat caused by terrorism to our societies and to our region.
"The effects of synchronised slowdown in developed economies, can reach us sooner than later. And, as the crisis deepens in the developed world, it is likely that protectionist sentiments can spread and even take root," Rajapaksa said.
He said the depression in the commodity market was "adversely affecting most of us, even negating the gains resulting from the declining oil prices".
Trade flows, production lines and the service sector are suffering from the domino effect of this crisis and there are looming liquidity problems.
"Unless definite counter measures are taken, this downward spiral has the potential to adversely affect our economies and impact on the living standards of our people."
"While we in South Asia can take comfort that economies of our countries are so far functioning well, and financial sectors have been well-regulated and stable, we cannot take for granted that we are fully insulated from the ongoing global economic crisis," Rajapaksa said.