PM embarks on mission 'peaceful periphery', Pak on top agenda
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be heading for the annual Saarc summit in Maldives from November 9 to 12 in a bid to further India's peaceful periphery policy. Jayanth Jacob reports.delhi Updated: Nov 09, 2011 08:48 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be heading for the annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit in Maldives from November 9 to 12 in a bid to further India's peaceful periphery policy.
The PM will also consolidate the recent pathways New Delhi has made in ties with its neighbours.
Leading the bilateral pack will be a 90-minute meeting between Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani, and ensuring that the peace process with Pakistan stays the course is crucial for the peaceful periphery policy, which of late is giving dividends.
India has made substantial progress in improving ties with Bangladesh. While it signed a strategic partnership with Afghanistan, relations with Nepal are on the mend.
With Myanmar, a Saarc observer, it has broken fresh ground.
While Singh is set to meet all other seven Saarc leaders for bilateral meetings, his address at the summit will "reflect" New Delhi's readiness for engaging South Asian countries as "partners for progress" through a host of measures including greater market access to India.
The PM is set to announce further sops for LDC (least developed country) members of the grouping in this regard - a step that will immensely benefit the newest Saarc member, Afghanistan. New Delhi also wants to see better "trade, transit and connectivity", transforming lives and bringing prosperity to the region, sources said.
At the same time, India would like its neighbours to be "sensitive" to its security concerns.
Government sources said the way India saw this year's summit and the road ahead was in sync with its policy for the grouping since 2004 - that is to discharge its responsibilities in an asymmetric and non-reciprocal manner.
"Non-reciprocity is an important aspect of India's policy for neighbours. We want them as partners in progress," a source said.
Officials said so far following the asymmetric and non-reciprocal approach, India had committed $500 million for various Saarc processes. This year's Saarc summit theme is building bridges, harmonising with the observance of the current decade as the "Saarc Decade of Intra-Regional Connectivity".