Destiny of South Asia lies in our own hands: PM

Manmohan Singh said that a greater cooperation is required between SAARC countries.

Zeenews Bureau

Addu: Addressing the 17th SAARC summit Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that India will deliver on peace in South Asia.

“I can see the impressive progress that we have made in the recent years. Since our last summit alone our ministers have met regularly,” he said, adding, “Regional cooperation in South Asia is good for all our countries.”

He said in his discussion with leaders of South Asia, he
sensed a collective commitment and desire to give greater
meaning and content to SAARC.

But he added, "Admittedly, there is a lot to be done but
the political will is there. We have all come to believe that
regional cooperation is good for each one of our countries".

He reaffirmed that India will do whatever is within its
capabilities to make SAARC an effective instrument to deliver
on vision of common peace, shared prosperity and cooperation.

Singh, who last week attended the G20 Summit, referred to
the acute crisis in the global economy, which he said has
imposed a fresh and entirely uncalled for burden on developing

"We hope that the leaders of the major economies,
particularly in the eurozone, will show the wisdom and will
that are required to revive the global economy," he said.

However, he said that the world economy was going to take
time to recover.

"In the meantime developing countries like ours will be
squeezed for capital, investments and markets for our exports.
We should seek imaginative ways to create new avenues and
sources of growth and investment in South Asia," Singh said.

“The destiny of South Asia lies in our own hands,” the Prime Minister emphasised.

"We have a long way to go, but I am confident that we can
realise our true potential through sustained effort," he said.

He added, "We have to learn to trust
each other and to learn from each other. The security and
stability of our countries are closely interlinked.

"None of us can prosper in isolation to each other. We
cannot afford to allow the many problems we face to stand in
the way of our ambitions and dreams".

The PM also said that he realized that given India`s geography and size of its economy and market, it has special responsibility to enhance SAARC

Manmohan Singh announced that India will reduce sensitive trade list for SAARC Least Developed Countries from 480 to 25 tariff lines with zero
basic customs duty access.

Commending the Postal Administrations of SAARC for
agreeing to establish a South Asian Postal Union, the Prime
Minister said India is happy to host the ad hoc Secretariat
for the Union, and to sponsor training courses at its Postal
Staff College to train up to ten SAARC officials per year,
belonging to interested member states.

He also sought greater broadcasting, television and film
exchanges among the member countries.

"It is time that we overcome the information deficit
among the SAARC countries. We should encourage our people to
know more about each other," he said.

Singh also announced a series of initiatives that India
will take for greater people-to-people contact in the South
Asian region.

He said India will host a conclave of the top dozen tour
operators from the SAARC region to boost tourism exchanges.

"We will take the initiative to establish a travelling
exhibition on the ancient history of South Asia. This could
comprise of a hundred archeologically-significant pieces per
country to be selected by member states. The exhibition can be
hosted in each of our national museums in turn for three
months," he said.

With `Building Bridges` as its theme, the Summit hosted by Maldives in the southern most point of the island lying
south of equator, is being attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina among others.

Singh noted that post-graduate courses in the South Asian
University have started in July 2010.

He said India will increase the number of SAARC Silver
Jubilee Scholarships for the South Asian University from 50 to
100. 75 of these will be at the Masters level and 25 at the
doctoral level.

"Protecting our environment even as we pursue rapid
growth is essential. The India Endowment for Climate Change
which I had announced last year has been established. We look
forward to receiving project proposals from our SAARC
partners," he said.

Singh also announced a total of ten scholarships per year
to SAARC member states for post-graduate and doctoral studies
in forestry courses at the Forestry Research Institute of
India, Dehradun.

With PTI inputs

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