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Eurozone events should not deter South Asian union, says PM

Puducherry, June 29 (IANS) The events in the eurozone should not affect the attempts to build a South Asian union although the financial and economic crisis gripping Europe in recent years has important lessons for South Asian countries, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday at Unesco Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asia Regional Cooperation in Puducherry.

"The events in the eurozone should not cast a shadow over our own efforts at building unity and eventually a South Asian union. If anything, we have not been ambitious enough in working towards building a united South Asia where each of our countries seeks its economic and social salvation through cooperative development within the region and by leveraging each other's strengths," Singh said.

Stating that the financial and economic crisis that has gripped Europe in the recent years has important lessons and implications for South Asian nations, Singh said: "The economic and political rise of post-War Europe was in no small measure due to the vision of thinkers like George Marshall and Jean Monnet. They believed that a stable, prosperous and united Europe was good for the world."

"That is as true today as it was then. I sincerely hope that the leaders of Europe will find in them the imagination and wisdom to preserve the European project that has served as a guiding light to regional cooperation elsewhere in the world, including South Asia," Singh added.

He said creative and talented men and women should pool their wisdom and work to remove the mental and other road blocks that are preventing the people of South Asia from realising their true destiny.

Stressing India's commitment to the idea of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Singh said it was a genuine desire among South Asian leaders to write a new chapter in the history of this organisation.

Expressing happiness at some of the recent initiatives like the starting of the South Asia University in New Delhi, Singh said the SAARC Development Fund has become operational and has started implementing projects under its social window.

Singh called for closer cooperation among South Asian countries to critically understand issues relating to food, energy and water security, disaster management health and education and address them from a holistic and regional perspective.

Referring to the lagging connectivity, Singh said India is fully committed to building a better connected SAARC as a strong and effective instrument for regional cooperation.

Indo Asian News Service

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