Peace and stability required in South Asia: Manmohan Singh tells Armed forces commanders

New Delhi, Sep 13 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Monday said one of the toughest challenge for India lies in its immediate neighbourhood and the fact is that we cannot realise our growth ambitions unless we ensure peace and stability in South Asia.

"The countries of the Gulf, West Asia and Central Asia are our natural partners. We have tangible interests in these regions, among which energy security is one of the most important. We have to ensure adequate availability of commercial energy to support our growth targets," said Dr Singh, while speaking at the Armed forces Commanders Conference here today.

"This requires not only diversification of the sources of our energy imports but also the widening of our overall energy mix. It is in this context that we need to operationalise our nuclear energy option, which holds great promise and is a necessity," he added.

Dr Singh claimed the situation in the North-East is better today than it was in the recent past, but some areas of concern still remain.

Talking about the Naxal menace, Dr Singh said: "Naxalism is a serious challenge to our internal security. We will do all that is necessary to protect each and every citizen of our country, and deal firmly with those who resort to violence."

"This is a collective task involving the Centre and the States. At the same time we have to accelerate our development efforts in the Naxal affected areas and make our administrative machinery more sensitive and responsive to local concerns," he added.

Referring to the global economic crisis of 2008, Dr Singh said India had weathered it better than most large economies, as there was a continental sized economy and large internal market.

"We have the advantage of a continental sized economy and a large internal market, but our challenge will be to ensure that our growth is balanced across all regions and reaches all sections of our society," he added.

"Given our young demographic profile, we will also have to ensure access to good quality education and health services to all. We have put in place a National Skill Development Mission to empower our youth which will yield positive results," he said. (ANI)

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