South Asian SAARC summit to conclude amid regional rivalry

August 3, 2008 (AFP) – South Asian leaders will push for anti-terror measures and greater food security as they wrap up a summit Sunday, but efforts to boost cooperation remain hampered by tensions between India and Pakistan. The prime ministers of the two countries met on the sidelines of the eight-nation regional summit, grabbing headlines with talks that sought to ease a crisis in their peace process.

Diplomats said Indian Premier Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani could have more informal talks during a “retreat” at Sri Lanka’s parliament before the formal end of the two-day summit on Sunday.

Leaders of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) were to head to the national parliament complex located on a picturesque man-made lake island just outside Colombo for informal talks.

“The retreat at the parliament building will give the leaders the opportunity to have unstructured talks in an informal atmosphere,” a Sri Lankan diplomat involved with the meeting said.

Saturday’s talks between Singh and Gilani, held outside the scope of SAARC, generated more attention than the summit itself. SAARC’s charter precludes the discussion of contentious bilat