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South Asian association for regional co-operation



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P A R L I A M E N T O F A U S T R A L I A

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

FA25/85 16.12.85

SOUTH ASIAN ASSOCIATION FOR REGIONAL CO-OPERATION

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Andrew Peacock today welcomed the establishment of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) as an important new regional group in the Indian Ocean, and expressed disappointment that the Government had completely ignored

its establishment.

Mr. Peacock said that the South Asian Association represented one fifth of the world's population and encompassed a region that was one of the most impoverished and unstable.

"The new Association promises to play an important role in preserving regional stability and in economic co-operation and development. -

"It means that the countries of South Asia will have an institutionalised regional framework where they can sit down and discuss such pressing problems as development, nuclear proliferation and Afghanistan. These issues have ramifications that go well beyond the subcontinent and are' of importance to Australia.

"A consensus for regional co-operation will take time to develop but this is a start, and the establishment of the South Asian Association should be applauded."

Mr. Peacock said that in light of this the Government's failure to give public support to the organisation was disappointing. -"Not only do we share an interest in the stability and development of the Indian Ocean region, we also have considerable links through the Commonwealth with many of the founding members of SAARC.

"It is typical of this Government that while it talks of deepening our relationship with the Indian Ocean region, if fails to do anything substantive about it. It cuts back on Aid and it fails to publicly support the establishment of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation."

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT PETER WOOLCOTT 72 7724.