VP says strong, stable neighbourhood good for India

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (UNI) Stressing that our "political commitment" to closer ties with neighbours in South-Asia was serious, Vice-President Hamid Ansari today said a strong, stable and moderate neighbourhood would serve India's security interests best.

Delivering the key note address at an International Seminar on 'Changing Political Context in India's Neighbourhood: Prospects of Regional Security and Cooperation', Dr Ansari said, ''We wish to see South Asia at peace with itself, leading to ever widening circles of security, peace and prosperity in the region.'' Hoping for better ties in near future, he said experience had shown that political constraints need not be permanent barriers to economic cooperation and the latter could help create a climate of opinion to resolve the conflicts.

Recommending new initiatives like operationlisation of the SAARC Food Bank, establishment of the SAARC Development Fund, setting-up of the South Asian University and signing of the Convention of Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters as important goal posts for regional integration, the VP said Human Development Indices of most South Asian countries was a matter of concern.

However, Mr Ansari added, ''Our strategic interests are better served if our neighbours evolve as viable states with moderate and stable political and social environments and vibrant economies.'' The seminar was jointly organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER).

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