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PM talks tough on terror

PM urges the grouping to reject extremes and become the voice of moderation. Have your say | Pics

india Updated: Sep 17, 2006 01:31 IST

Urging the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to reject extremes and be the voice of "moderation, harmony and reason", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said it should deal with urgent transnational issues like terrorism, pandemics, energy security and environment.

In his address on the first day of the two-day NAM summit in Havana, Manmohan Singh rejected the oft-quoted Western notion of a 'clash of civilisations' and said NAM should "play the role of a bridge of understanding" and work instead towards a "confluence of civilisations".

He said for NAM to remain relevant it could not equivocate on terrorism.

"A message must emanate from us that we are united in our desire to fight and eliminate the scourge of terrorism. We cannot allow the forces of intolerance and extremism to distract the world's attention from the vital concerns of our people - the problems of poverty, ignorance and disease," the prime minister said, addressing leaders and delegates from 118 nations at the International Convention Center overlooking the vast Atlantic Ocean.

He said the world was being split along an artificially created cultural and religious divide and the NAM, encompassing as it does "every religion professed by mankind", was uniquely placed "to play the role of a bridge of understanding".

Among other things, Manmohan Singh, called for:

* Constitution of a high-level NAM group for West Asia that would promote understanding in the Middle East and promote implementation of the agreed roadmap to peace;

* Work towards efforts to achieve universal nuclear disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons as enshrined in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan for Nuclear Disarmament;

* Establish a NAM Working Group on Energy to draw up an action plan for energy security for member nations. India can coordinate the action of such a group;

* Take a major NAM initiative on Africa to pool assets for investment in the future of Africa, particularly focussing on human resource and agricultural development.

Manmohan Singh said NAM should spread the message of Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace.

"If we wish to revitalise the Non-Aligned Movement, the collective message of our summit must be seen as being central to the success of global efforts to deal with urgent trans-national issues-be it terrorism, pandemics, energy security or the environment.

"As a group we have rejected extremes....Our voice must then be one of moderation, harmony and reason. If such is the voice of more than half of the people of the world, it will prevail," the prime minister concluded.

First Published: Sep 16, 2006 01:38 IST