Commonwealth's experience must be used to eliminate poverty : PM

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New Delhi, Sep 25 (UNI) Reaffirming India's commitment to the ideas and ideals of the Commonwealth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said its experience and knowledge should be used to banish poverty.

In a message to the 53rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference here, Dr Singh said the Commonwealth had the potential to creatively tackle all major global problems.

''In the 20th century, the Commonwealth symbolised the peaceful transition from colonialism to freedom. In the 21st century, the Commonwealth will come to symbolise the hopes and aspirations of all humanity to live in an open society and an open economy,'' Dr Singh said.

Dr Singh, who could not attend the Conference as he is recuperating after a surgery, deeply regretted his absence.

His message as well as that of the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, were read out at the plenary of the Conference, inaugurated by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

Stating that India relished its long association with the Commonwealth, Dr Singh said it shared its commitment to democracy, open society, open economy, to the rule of law and fundamental human rights.

''I do sincerely believe that many of us in the Commonwealth have much to share with other countries in the common human quest for freedom and democracy. We are all proud of our plural, multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies,'' he said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Commonwealth had an opportunity of ''creatively'' addressing the grave challenges facing the human kind. In this context, he identified these as poverty and its social, economic, political and ecological consequences.

''The Commonwealth is a store house of experience and knowledge and we must put these to good use to banish mass poverty in our lifetime. There are other issues of global concern such as terrorism, the threat of climate change and the preservation of our environment that need our urgent attention.'' The Queen, in her message, wished the conference success and stated that it was heartening that government and opposition members from nearly 170 Parliaments of the Commonwealth are attending the event.

UNI

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