Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday urged the international community to stay the course in Afghanistan and called upon the West to introduce a more open and friendly visa regime to enable greater people-to-people movement.

Dr. Singh said stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan was of vital importance to India than any other nation as it stood to be affected more by the turmoil in the two countries.

He, however, appreciated the efforts of the international community in bringing stability in Afghanistan. He sincerely hoped that it would be willing to stay the course in recognising the problem.

The Prime Minister was talking to reporters along with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (whose country heads the European Union) and European Commission President Jose Manuel Borosso at the end of the 10th India-EU Summit,

With trade talks not making much headway due to the EU’s insistence on labour standards although both sides hoped to clinch it within a year, Dr. Singh pressed for a freer visa regime and identified the easier movement of people as one of the prime areas of cooperation.

EU and India resolved to expedite work on greater information-sharing on issues relating to terrorism and introduce closer coordination between the Europol and Indian security agencies.

The two sides also signed a pact to promote joint research in nuclear fusion.

In their opening statements, Mr. Reinfeldt and Mr. Borosso emphasised the need to arrive at some sort of an agreement on climate change at next month’s conference in Copenhagen. While Dr. Singh agreed with their sentiments, he pointed out that India had not yet worked out the costs for ushering in green technology. He also informed the EU delegation about India’s ambitious plans to combat climate change.

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