NATIONAL

Singapore PM backs India's `long-term vision'

SINGAPORE OCT. 13. India's "long-term vision" of an "Asian economic community'' has been endorsed by the Singapore Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong.

In his keynote address at the East Asia Economic Summit, being organised here by the World Economic Forum, Mr. Goh said: "As India opens up, it will increasingly look East. India's long-term vision is an Asian economic community, comprising the ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] Plus Three countries [China, Japan and South Korea] and India. We should welcome this and embrace India. There is no reason to handicap ourselves by leaving out a new and highly promising growth centre [India]".

Looking at India as a possible "third node of growth" that could be "integrated into the East Asian economy", the other two nodes being China and Japan, he said: "India, too, is shaking off old mindsets. It is taking pragmatic steps towards market liberalisation and [economic] openness. ...India's political system is different from China's. Democracy is a messier system than a one-party system. As such, India cannot always move as decisively as China. But the Indians know that in the post-Cold War world, there is no choice but to push ahead with economic liberalisation.

"... Where it can, India is already moving fast. ... Now, India is also forging new political relationships with the U.S. and China, and deepening its engagement with South East Asia. ...The World Bank currently classifies India as a low-income economy. By 2025, India will become at least a lower-middle income economy. And parts of India such as Bangalore and Mumbai will be upper-middle income."

King Abdullah II of Jordan said it was time to "create a new mindset and a real peace" across the world to end the "destructive" Arab-Israeli conflict which "has been a central cause of instability and a recruiting ground for extremism and global terror".

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