India on Tuesday said it is willing to take on more responsibilities than other South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) members for the economic development of the region but said “bright” prospects of co-operation have been hurt by cross-border terrorism.
“Let me assure you that India is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities in SAARC in an asymmetric and non-reciprocal manner for the benefit of the countries in the region,” External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said.
However, he said, the bright prospects for cooperation have become captive to the security situation.
“Cross-border terrorism and incidents of anti-India activities from territories of our neighbouring countries have impacted on the process of regional economic engagement, connectivity and people-to-people contacts,” he said.
Mr. Krishna was speaking at a conference on South Asian Economic Integration organised by industry body FICCI, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Ministry of External Affairs and others.
“SAARC countries represent one-fifth of humanity. It is only through closer economic cooperation that we can harness the region’s full potential and bring the fruits of development to its people,” the Minister said.
Mr. Krishna called on the business community of the region to play a leading role in promoting economic cooperation and help build a climate of mutual trust and confidence.
“The need of the hour for South Asia is to move beyond security issues that shackle it, into an era of mutual trust and mutually reinforcing growth and development,” he said.