External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj pitched for focussing on 3 Cs - Culture, Commerce and Connectivity and particularly emphasised on the need for innovative ways to connect the countries through road and rail, sea and air or through integrated multi-modal transport.

"Enhancing connectivity would not only increase productivity, bring down costs, raise our economic growth and accelerate our common development but also help us remove the endemic poverty in the region," she said.

The Foreign Ministers also deliberated on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) while emphasising on its full implementation to exploit the economic benefits of the region.

More or less the sense in the meeting was the implementation of SAFTA which is important for ensuring economic prosperity in the whole region.

India is pressing hard for implementation of the pact, which came into force on January 1, 2006.

Foreign Ministers of a number of other countries, including Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, also underlined the need for improving transport links to fuel growth.

Pakistan's National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaz Aziz said lifting restrictions on movement of goods among the SAARC countries was discussed in details and the Foreign Ministers' meeting prepared a detailed report on the issue.

"Trade and lifting restrictions on movement of goods were discussed in detail. A report on it has also been finalised," he said.

The report will be presented at the two-day summit-level meeting, he added. On economic growth, Swaraj said intra-SAARC trade would accelerate regional economic growth.

"The SAFTA has given some momentum to intra-SAARC trade but it still remains far below potential. India has already taken several measures to boost intra-regional trade, including providing duty-free access to goods from SAARC LDCs," she said.

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