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Sri Lanka PM: Asia's Development Needs Peaceful Environment
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To ensure sustained development and growth for Asia, Asian countries need to complement each others' efforts rather than complicate them through confrontation, said Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake Sunday.

Addressing a plenary session of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2006, Wickramanayake said while speaking of new models and opportunities for Asia to drive development to higher levels, a peaceful environment is needed and the Asian countries must be conscious of the challenges to which they need to respond.

The Asian region is not without disputes, he said, adding that many territorial disputes, which are the unfortunate legacies of history, can sometimes cloud even a bilateral vision of development.

Addressing disputes through negotiations, rather than military gestures, creates a more conducive atmosphere for economic cooperation and the disputes need to be managed rather than permitting them to escalate to a point where they poison the opportunities for development, he said.

Terrorism, separatism and extremism are dangerous threats to regional and global security and those evils need to be dealt with firmly and decisively, he pointed.

Wickramanayake mentioned that under the chairmanship of China, the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is being sensitively, patiently addressed through multi-party negotiations.

Considering the diversity of economic systems and its mix of "developed" and "developing" states, Asia needs to strengthen its complementarities and promote practical cooperation, and given economic disparities between Asian nations, safeguards to protect the interest of the more vulnerable states would also be required, he said.

Wickramanayake noted that beyond national and bilateral efforts, institutional and other mechanisms of sub-regional and regional cooperation need to be made more effective.

Naming out major organizations such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) that Asian countries established, he said, the mosaic of linkages, networks and institutional mechanisms need to be coordinated in practical terms to move Asia to the next level of economic growth and development.

Further more, a united Asia working in concert cannot be a region in isolation, and "linkage with other continents needs to be strengthened," he said.

The Prime Minister praised China's development as it put out the concept of "Xiao Kang" and pursues a balanced development that reduces disparities between rural and urban areas, and different regions.

The BFA has, the Prime Minister said, from its inception, kept Asia's windows open because speakers at this Forum come from many continents, from developing as well as developed countries. "This, apart from promoting economic exchanges, could help to foster an inter-regional dialogue and reduce disparities."

(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2006)

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