Ambassadors told to continue emphasis on security, economic prosperity

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday asked Indian ambassadors to facilitate trade and access to rare natural resources.

Addressing about 120 envoys at the fourth conference of Indian Heads of Mission here, Dr. Singh said the other imperatives had not changed but for foreign policy to effectively serve domestic growth needs, efforts must be equally geared toward finding economic opportunities in trade and financial flows and assisting the search for privileged access to critical or rare natural resources — these could be sources of energy or other minerals vital for modern industries.

At the same time, the Prime Minister wanted diplomats to continue with their emphasis on security against external threats, economic prosperity and sharing in global public goods. While these remain the central impulses, a dynamic environment demands constant fine-tuning of the instruments of policy.

“We must also not remain content with making the best of a difficult external environment, but instead attempt to actively shape a favourable external environment for India.”

Turning to the immediate neighbourhood, a topic that was dealt with in detail by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Dr. Singh said India’s priority was greater connectivity in South Asia so that “India’s growth provides the engine of progress for our neighbours.”

Mr. Krishna described the immediate neighbourhood as of paramount importance for India’s national interests and outlined the recent initiatives to enhance interaction. India’s asymmetrical and result-oriented approach has pushed forward the SAARC process, he said.

India-Pakistan dialogue

The Minister was “reasonably satisfied” at the progress achieved in the last round of the India-Pakistan resumed dialogue, given the complexities of the issues. “We are also cognisant of the fact that there is a long way to go and the path ahead will not be easy,” he said and termed India-China relations as one of the most important bilateral relationships in the 21st century.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai also touched upon the neighbourhood in his address and said high priority had always been given to the development of close ties with all the countries. India’s engagements with major powers have also visibly and substantively increased in a more nuanced way than previously, he added.

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