India-China trust key to Asian prosperity: Natwar Singh

Thursday, 27 January 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh Thursday called for discarding old mindsets that saw a conflict of interests between India and China, saying trust between the two held the key to peace and security in Asia.

Singh was confident that India and China would be partners, not adversaries, in what promises to be an Asian century.

"Both India and China are aware that trust and cooperation between them are one of the most crucial elements that make our region and Asia a vibrant and energetic fulcrum for growth," Singh said.

Over 50 defence analysts and strategy experts from India and abroad are participating in the conference -"Changing Security Dynamics in Eastern Asia."

Singh said: "Despite the difference on the boundary issue, our 3,400-km-long border with China has largely remained tranquil over the last 25 years. This is by no means a minor achievement and should be enough to silence those who look at India-China relations from an adversarial prism."

To prove his point, he cited an incremental progress in trade between the two countries from a few hundred million dollars in the early 1990s to $13 billion last year.

Japan figures prominently in discussions at the security conference. Alluding to relationship with Japan as an anchor in the extensive interaction with East Asia, Singh said: "Our relations are based on the firmly based recognition that both countries are legitimate candidates for the permanent membership of the UN Security Council."

Japan's former defence minister Shigery Ishiba will address a special session here Friday while Defence Minister Pranab Mukerjee will address the concluding session Saturday.

Imparting a renewed impetus to India's Look East policy, Singh reiterated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's promise at the third India-ASEAN summit in November to build a durable partnership with ASEAN countries.

Singh also unfurled the vision of an Asian economic community encompassing ASEAN, South Korea, Japan, China and India - "the five pillars which may form the initial core to drive Asia's emergence as the centre of gravity of the global economy".

"This community of nations would constitute an arc of advantage and act as an anchor of stability and prosperity in our region and beyond," Singh proclaimed.

Exhorting everyone in Asia to blend their strengths, rather than focus on differences, to build "an Asian century", Singh stressed the need to put in place "a political and economic architecture, which is conducive to Asia's emergence as a pre-eminent region of stability and prosperity."

Source: IANS
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