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Foreign Minister Pranab calls for tension-free world

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Oct 25: Mr Pranab Mukherjee took charge as the External Affairs Minister here this morning and called for peace and tension-free situation in the region,particularly vis-a-vis Pakistan.

''We can't alter our neighbours...It is desirable to live in peace and a tension-free situation,'' Mr Mukherjee told reporters immediately after taking charge of the External Affairs Ministry.

Mr Mukherjee's statements are significant since earlier this week, he had, as Defence Minister, criticised ISI for involvement in espionage activities in India.

Indicating laying more emphasis on economic diplomacy, he said his aim would be to achieve nine per cent economic growth in the 11th plan and have a sustained growth in the 12th plan by roping in more investment and state-of-the art technology and promote peace and stability in the region.

''...we require investment, state-of-the-art technology and peace and stability not only in the neighbourhood but also all over the world...We are part of a global village and instability in any part of the world can have its impact on India,'' the former Defence Minister said.

Mr Mukherjee said India had the responsibility of carrying out a foreign policy as part of the comity of nations.

To a question on Pakistan, the External Affairs Minister said India would be sharing with Pakistan the evidences about ISI involvement in the Mumbai bomb blasts which claimed at least 180 lives.

''...Our law enforcing agencies have gathered evidences. We will be sharing these with Pakistan,'' he added.

Reflecting the government's policy on Pakistan, he said his view on the issue could not be separate.

Replying to a question on whether India would apply force on Bangladesh on the issue of terrorism since that country was becoming a hub of anti-India activities, the External Affairs Minister said New Delhi had taken up the matter with Dhaka on several occasions.

The matter was even discussed with Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia when she was in India.

''It is not a question of applying force. We suggested to her that fundamentalist forces (operating from that country) should be curbed.

Besides, the two countries have regular mechanisms where intelligence and information regarding security issues are discussed.

Mr Mukherjee said he was taking over the Foreign Ministry again after a gap of 10 years.


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