Male, Nov 12: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left here for home today (Nov 12) after concluding a four-day visit to Maldives, where he attended the eight-nation SAARC Summit, held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani and announced a series of key initiatives for Maldives.
During his stay here, the prime minister addressed the SAARC Summit on Thursday during which he announced a major trade liberalisation effort in South Asia, drastically slashing the sensitive list for Least Developed Countries under SAFTA from 480 tariff lines to just 25 under which zero basic customs duty will be given for all the removed items.
On the margins of the Summit, Singh held talks with his counterparts from Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh and also met Presidents of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
After meeting his Pakistani counterpart Gilani, Singh declared that time has come to write a "new chapter" in the history of two countries.
India also decided to move towards a Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan as both sides agreed to put in place a liberalised visa regime soon.
The decision on the Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan under SAFTA will lead to zero customs duty on all traded goods by 2016.
Singh and Gilani also agreed that bilateral trade will be conducted on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis.
Singh also met Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed and announced a USD 100 million Standby Credit Facility and a number of other crucial initiatives, including building capacity of Maldivian security forces.