Pakistan Deploys More Police for Summit

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan deployed extra police forces and paramilitary units on Tuesday in the country's capital to boost security ahead of a regional summit on economic cooperation, officials said.

Islamabad is to host representatives from 10 countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization on Wednesday to finalize a plan on expanding the region's trade and prosperity.

Presidents of Iran and Turkey, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are expected to attend the summit, two Pakistani officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. A representative of Afghanistan is also expected.

Turkey, Iran and Pakistan were the three ECO founding members.

On Tuesday, several ministers from ECO member states gathered in Islamabad for preparatory meetings ahead of the summit, the foreign ministry said.

Pakistan's foreign minister, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, describe the summit as a key chance for regional economic growth and cooperation and an opportunity for Pakistan to show it cannot be isolated from the international scene.

Islamabad had to cancel several regional cooperation meetings last year after neighboring India and Afghanistan declined to attend. New Delhi cited security concerns amid a surge in violence over the disputed Kashmir region, which both Pakistan and India claim in its entirety.

Despite militant attacks, Pakistan is trying to showcase the country as one of the most growing markets in Asia, inviting investors from around the world. Some recent economic surveys suggest Pakistan's economy has been growing despite an insecure business environment due to militant attacks. A string of bombings and suicide attacks last week killed over 125 people.

"Our region is faced with a number of challenges, including extremism, terrorism," said Pakistani Foreign Affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz, calling for more regional cooperation in socio-economic and human development.

(KA)