Tuesday, Apr 09, 2002
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By Amit Baruah
Mr. Goh said, "Since we last met (in January 2000) the world has undergone momentous changes. The tragic events of September 11 were a watershed for post-Cold War international relations. The common challenge of fighting terrorism is catalysing geo-political shifts in relations between major powers. The outcome is not yet clear.''
Unfortunately, both South Asia and South-East Asia were all too familiar with the challenges posed by terrorism and religious extremism, Mr. Goh said.
``These did not suddenly spring into being six months ago. But recent events now require all of us to pay more urgent attention to such threats. This is one reason for even closer cooperation between India and South-East Asia,'' he said.
``The impact of Indian civilisation on South-East Asia is, of course, ancient and profound. But the most critical modern manifestation of our ties is India's re-engagement with the ASEAN, and India's steady involvement in the South-East Asian regionalism.''
Terming the first ever summit meeting between the ASEAN and India as an important milestone, Mr. Goh said: "Singapore is happy to have played a role in facilitating India's relations with the ASEAN. We believe that South-East Asia and India have much to gain from closer linkages.''
Mr. Vajpayee referred to the discussions he had with the leaders in Singapore on strategic environment, political concerns and security challenges.
``Recent events have dramatically demonstrated the reach and penetration of international terrorist forces. Societies like ours have to close ranks against these forces,'' he said.
Thanking the Singapore Government for its hospitality, Mr. Vajpayee said, "We particularly appreciate your ready acceptance of the scheduling changes in this visit.'' (Mr. Vajpayee's visit was postponed twice before.)
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