M A I N   N E W S

PM for common front against terror
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga in Bangkok
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga in Bangkok on Saturday. — PTI photo

Bangkok, July 31
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today cautioned against terrorism and religious extremism and warned that “the areas of conflict are coming closer to us”.

In his speech at the inaugural summit of BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan Economic Cooperation) countries, the Prime Minister stressed the need for forging a common front against terrorism, gunrunning and narcotics. The fact that the Prime Minister made this appeal from here assumes all the more importance because Thailand is a major transit point for all these criminal activities despite the Thai government’s battle against these crimes.

“The global political environment fosters insecurity, making our task even more complex, and our endeavours more urgent. The intolerance bred by religious extremism can divide societies and people and we neglect it at our peril. The scourge of terrorism is unfortunately one with which we all must grapple — as a global phenonmenon and as an everyday reality. The areas of conflict are coming closer to us,” the Prime Minister said.

Dr Manmohan Singh also underlined the need for reforms in the United Nations and the expansion of the UN Security Council for which India has been lobbying for years. “A global order, which is better representative and more responsive to the needs of our times, must include the reform of the United Nations and a restructuring of the Security Council.”

Dr Manmohan Singh told the BIMSTEC leaders that India considered its participation in the BIMSTEC summit as a key element in its ‘Look East’ policy and longstanding approach of good neighbourliness towards all its neighbours — by land and sea.

In this context, the Prime Minister pointed out that considerable progress had already been achieved in terms of a Framework Agreement on Free Trade and valuable expert-level studies under the six listed areas of cooperation —trade and investment, technology, transport and communication, energy, tourism and fisheries.

The Prime Minister laid emphasis on the trilateral India-Myanmar-Thailand highway for which the three countries’ Foreign Ministers held discussions in New Delhi earlier this year. The process of technical-level and official-level contacts on the subject is already on.

“We consider the trilateral India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway proposal and the proposed Optical Fibre Telecommunication Link alongside the highway as projects, which would have considerable importance in the BIMSTEC context,” he said.

The Prime Minister also announced four proposals in his speech. The proposals are as follows:

India to set up a BIMSTEC Centre on Weather and Climate in New Delhi. India will also be willing to share its expertise in remote sensing for agriculture, environment and disaster management.

India to host a ministerial conference on energy cooperation next year to give an impetus to BIMSTEC members’ joint efforts in this area.

India to give 150 scholarships for next year under the information technology economic cooperation programme for BIMSTEC countries. These will be in addition to the 150 scholarships offered by India at the ministerial meeting in Phuket in February this year.

India to give 30 scholarships in the field of traditional systems of medicine to enable a productive partnership among BIMSTEC countries. 

PM returns

New Delhi, July 31
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight returned here after attending the first BIMSTEC summit at Bangkok.

He was received at the airport by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ministers of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and Rao Inderjit Singh, besides top civil and defence officials. — UNIBack

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