United Nations (New York), Sept.27 : Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday called for the strengthening of international cooperation to combat terrorism, adding that it was "vital" to bring its perpetrators, financiers and sponsors to justice.
Addressing the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly here, he also made a strong pitch for expeditious conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and swift reforms of the UN, including changes in the composition of the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities of the 21st century.
"It is vital that we strengthen international cooperation to combat terrorism and to bring the perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism to justice. We should conclude expeditiously the Comprehensive Convention on International terrorism," Singh said in his address which coincided with his 76th birthday.
He warned that growing assertion of separate identities and ethnic, cultural and religious intolerance threatens developmental efforts as also peace and stability.
On UN reforms, he said: "It is only a truly representative and revitalized United Nations that can become the effective focal point for the cooperative efforts of the world community. We need to expeditiously hold negotiations towards this end."
Hailing return of democracy in Pakistan, Singh said India is committed to resolving all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through dialogue.
"We welcome the return of democracy in Pakistan. We are committed to resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through peaceful dialogue," Singh said.
Singh, who spoke after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, said India was seeking to expand areas of cooperation with all its neighbors in dealing with the challenges of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Earlier, Zardari vowed to continue the "composite dialogue" with India to resolve all outstanding issues and said whether it is the "core issue" of Kashmir or cooperation in water resources, the two countries must accommodate each other's interests.
Dr. Singh also voiced concern over the situation in Afghanistan and said the international community must pool all of its resources to ensure the success of reconstruction efforts there.
He also welcomed the formation of democratically-elected governments in Nepal and Bhutan.
Observing that the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) waiver for India was a vindication of its impeccable record on non-proliferation front, Singh said this development would have a positive impact on the global energy security and efforts to combat climate change.
On India's commitment to disarmament, he pointed out that the blueprint in this regard was spelt out at the UN 22 years ago by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
"I reiterate India's proposal for a Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and providing for their complete elimination within a specified time-frame," he said.
On the economic front, the Prime Minister told the UN General Assembly that as far as India is concerned, growth objectives and ecologically sustainable development were linked.
"India is registering rapid economic growth... our total demand will keep increasing and we are actively looking for all possible sources of clean energy," he said.
On the issue of climate change, Singh said it can be overcome successfully only through a collaborative and cooperative global effort.
He said India supports the multilateral negotiations taking place under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"The outcome must be fair and equitable and recognise the principle that each citizen of the world has equal entitlement to the global atmospheric space," he said.
Noting that India has unveiled an ambitious National Action Plan on Climate Change, Singh said: "Even as we pursue economic growth, we are committed to our per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases not exceeding those of the developed countries."
He also pitched for a "new" international initiative to bring structural reforms in the world's financial system saying the "explosion" of financial innovation without any credible systemic regulation has made the system vulnerable.
With the financial meltdown in the US weighing heavily on his mind, Singh said the resulting crisis of confidence threatened global prosperity in the increasingly interdependent world which we live.
"There is a need for a new international initiative to bring structural reform in the world's financial system with more effective regulation and stronger systems of multilateral consultations and surveillance. This must be designed in an as inclusive a manner as possible," the Prime Minister said.
Speaking on trade liberalization in agriculture, Singh said it can help provided it adequately takes into account the livelihood concerns of poor and vulnerable farmers in the developing and least developed countries.
Stating that global prosperity and welfare are indivisible and affluence cannot coexist with pervasive poverty, Singh regretted that solemn commitments made for transfer of financial resources from the developed to the developing world have largely remained unfulfilled.
Singh's last address to the UNGA during his current prime ministerial tenure was all embracing and emphasized the need for increased global efforts to address key international issues.
In a spirited defence of the UN, Singh ended his speech by projecting the UN as "a living symbol of pluralism."
"It has weathered many storms. It is the vehicle through which our combined will and efforts to address global challenges must be articulated and implemented. Unless we rise to the task, we would bequeath to succeeding generations a world of diminishing prospects," he warned world leaders. By Naveen Kapoor