Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged the SAARC leaders for setting aside their differences and working on collective strength for bringing real prosperity of the people of the region.
"SAARC can actually attain collective political will and ambitions. What is needed is to set aside our differences and work on collective strength for bringing real progress of the region," she said.
The PM was addressing the inaugural session of the 18th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at Katmandu City Hall here, reports BSS.
Calling upon the SAARC leaders to undertake more realistic, result-oriented and mutually beneficial partnership for cooperation to prosper together, she said, "Let that be our contribution to redeem our pledge to our people to leave a more peaceful, progressive, connected and knowledge-based South Asia."
For achieving development faster, PM said, the SAARC nations must deepen their collective efforts to develop, use and apply science-technology-innovation at all levels.
PM called for deeper cooperation in the areas of health, agriculture, food and climate change technologies saying a candid assessment and frank conversation among us is needed to bring dynamism in SAARC activities.
Sheikh Hasina said poverty is the common and key enemy of the SAARC hindering peace and development of the region. Ensuring food and nutritional security of our ever-increasing population is a big challenge, she said.
She said much of South Asia has attained self- sufficiency in production of key cereals over decades, which helped reduce abject poverty and improved our MDGs profile. In Bangladesh with an average growth rate of 6.2 percent for the last five years, poverty rate has been reduced to 24.4 percent now from 40 percent in 2005.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has attained targets of universal safe drinking water and sanitation for the people. However, we need to do more as we have targeted to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041, she said.