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Remove suspicion, Sinha to SAARC

January 02, 2004 19:46 IST

India on Friday asked South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to set aside suspicions for a higher economic growth.

"We should accept the realities of the present world order and identify the objectives of cooperative economic security as many regional groupings are doing," External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha told the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Islamabad. "This will require that we do nothing to undermine each other's security."

He said the central message India wanted to give was that "we must set aside all our suspicions of each other wherever they exist and switch on the engine of South Asian growth in order to travel on the road to prosperity. This task brooks no further delay.

"Decades of tension have resulted in predatory economic structures based on illegal cross-border activities including smuggling, narcotics, arms trafficking and support to disaffected terrorists and insurgent groups."

Sinha said "illegitimate channels" for commercial interaction would come into operation if legitimate avenues were not provided.

"The people who have become wealthy through this criminalised economy fund sustain divisiveness in order to inhibit regular economic and social exchanges. This has to be put an end to," he said.

The minister suggested a more participatory involvement of the SAARC nations in promoting "legitimate, cross-border economic exchanges" so that "the peace economy triumphs over the nefarious ones".

He said the South Asian region was projected to grow by 5.8 per cent in 2003 and over six per cent in 2004, despite "an atmosphere of mistrust and tension".

"Just imagine how much more could be achieved if through trust and confidence building we ensured political stability and gave ourselves an added boost through regional cooperation," Sinha said.

He said South Asia had vast untapped capacities for hydropower, besides unexploited hydrocarbons, which could more than meet the region's huge energy deficit. Nepal and Bhutan have an estimated potential of 100,000 megawatts of environmentally clean hydropower.

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