The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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EU-style grouping floated

New Delhi, Sept. 5: Inaugurating the South Asia Forum here today, foreign minister Yashwant Sinha said a South Asia Union should be set up with a single currency, tariff regime and free movement of goods, services and people.

The forum, comprising MPs and former MPs, has been set up to strengthen regional cooperation and create awareness about the region.

Modelled on the European Union, the forum aims at minimising the effects of globalisation and improving the region’s bargaining power.

The inauguration was attended by diplomats from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives along with MPs, foreign policy experts and social activists.

Speaking at the function, Sinha said the nations of Europe had managed to sink their differences and come together despite centuries of rivalry and warfare.

“If Europe and Africa can think in terms of a union, if Asean and Latin America can make progress in this direction, there is no reason why south Asia should be left behind,” he said.

Sinha said all India wanted was that its neighbours should be sensitive to its security concerns and take no action which would undermine the country’s security.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former Union minister Eduardo Faleiro is the chairman of the forum. He said the forum’s objective was to promote people-to-people contact and cultural ties.

Former army chief and Rajya Sabha MP General Shankar Roy Choudhury and RSP leader Abani Roy also spoke on the occasion.

In his keynote address, Sinha said: “It is in the collective interest of the people of south Asia that governments of the region work to strengthen each other’s security rather than undermine it.”

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