KATHMANDU, NOV 11 – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said India recognises that it has “a special responsibility” towards its neighbours given its geography and the size of its economy and market.
Addressing the 17th Saarc Summit, he said, “I believe the process [of regional integration] should move faster, though at a pace we are all comfortable with. I recognise that India has a special responsibility that flows from the geography of our region and the size of our economy and market.”
Singh reiterated his committment to turn Saarc into an effective instrument of a shared vision of common ‘peace, prosperity and cooperation.’
“We should work to create a climate whereby the wealth generated by us is invested back into our own region. This will be the most ringing endorsement of our vision of a regional economy without boundaries,” the Indian PM said.
Singh said there were promising signs that South Asia was “increasingly getting plugged into the growth dynamic of Asia.” “Despite all the difficulties, we have been able to maintain a respectable growth rate in the last few years,” he said.
Meanwhile China, an observer in Saarc along with nine other countries, has reportedly approached some countries in the region to model the annual Saarc summit as a ‘Saarc Plus One’ arrangment. “China wants an annual summit with our eight members on the lines of its Asean Plus One arrangement,” a senior diplomat from a smaller Saarc state was quoted by the Straits Times as saying. “It is a move that annoys India and most of us are just sitting quiet because we do not want to upset New Delhi.”